Sri Lanka confirms Prabhakaran hurt in air raid

By P.K. Balachandran, IANS

Colombo : The Sri Lankan government has confirmed a media report that Tamil Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran was injured in an air raid late last month.

Support TwoCircles

The Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) website said that Prabhakaran was injured when the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) hit the bunker complex at Jayanthinagar in Kilinochchi at 5.25 p.m. in the last week of November.

The government said the SLAF had specifically targeted Prabhakaran on the basis of intelligence that he would be at the Jayanthinagar complex, which he visited frequently.

On why the event was not publicised, the government said that although the air force believed that the Tiger chief had been hit it could not be confirmed by ground intelligence.

The Nation weekly had said last Sunday that Prabhakaran was “slightly injured” when his bunker was hit in an air raid on Nov 28 and that he was treated by the Thileepan emergency medical care unit, a specialised group.

Sri Lanka’s military spokesperson Brig Udaya Nanayakkara said the government had no information on the incident and that it was being investigated.

But Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told foreign correspondents later that the air force had struck two “high profile” targets in Kilinochchi on Nov 28 and that one of the targets had remained closed for two weeks after that, indicating that some major damage had been done.

He said he had no details.

The defence secretary had said several times that the armed forces were going after the LTTE’s leadership and that these would be picked up one by one.

The LTTE remained silent on the incident, which had apparently not affected Tiger VVIP movement in Kilinochchi.

Prabhakaran’s wife Mathivathani had opened a home for the aged at a public ceremony last Sunday. The wives of some top military commanders had also participated in the much publicised function.

The LTTE’s political wing leader S.P. Tamilselvan was killed in an air raid on Nov 2.

Both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE tried to make political and military capital out of the killing of Tamilselvan.

While the government gloated over the killing of what it touted as the ‘Number 2’ in the LTTE’s politico-military hierarchy and said that more such high profile killings would come, Prabhakaran had described it as a major blow to the peace process and used it as an excuse to continue his armed struggle for a separate Tamil Eelam in the northeast.

The Mahinda Rajapaksa government used the killing to whip up support for the war among the Sinhalese majority in southern Sri Lanka, and the LTTE used it to mobilise support in Tamil Nadu in India and among the Tamil diaspora across the globe.