|Sri Lankan Air Force Strikes Base Used by Tamil Tiger Leaders|
|Wednesday, 24 September 2008|
by: Michael Heath
Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lankan air force jets attacked a base used by Tamil Tiger leaders near the rebel headquarters in the northern town of Kilinochchi, the Defense Ministry said.
The strike at 8 p.m. yesterday targeted “the terror kingpins' hideout'' in the Piramantalkulm area, Air Force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said in a statement on the ministry's Web site. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam hasn't commented on the raid.
Sri Lanka's army is 4 1/2 kilometers (2 miles) from Kilinochchi and it is only “a matter of time before this will be liberated,'' President Mahinda Rajapaksa said this week. The military is targeting LTTE leaders in the north after capturing the eastern region last year.
The group's military intelligence chief was killed in January and Velupillai Prabhakaran, the LTTE leader, was wounded in an air raid last November, according to the government. The head of the political wing was killed last year.
While the military estimates the Tamil Tigers only have between 3,000 and 5,000 fighters remaining, some defense analysts say the number may be as high as 10,000 and units are able to operate freely in the jungle terrain in the northern Wanni region where Kilinochchi lies. Rajapaksa's government has vowed to eradicate terrorism from the South Asian island nation while seeking a settlement with all Tamil groups.
An “accelerated development” program has been implemented in the east and Sri Lanka has “showcased” to the world how terrorism can be defeated, Rajapaksa said this week.
The LTTE accused the military of attacking civilian areas, a charge the government denies. The group's Peace Secretariat says the army offensives and bombing raids have forced more than 113,000 people from their homes in northern villages.
The government is proposing a power-sharing agreement based on a 1987 constitutional amendment creating provincial councils to defuse Tamil demands for self-rule in the east and north. The LTTE, designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., the European Union and India, rejected the amendment in 1988, saying it left too much power with the national Parliament.
The 25-year conflict has left more than 70,000 people dead. Tamils made up 11.9 percent of the population of 20 million and ethnic Sinhalese almost 74 percent in 2001, according to a census that year.
(Courtesy : Bloomberg )
|Last Updated ( Monday, 09 March 2009 )|
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