Prabhakaran can’t have fled to India: Lankan Army Chief

Lankan Army Chief Sarath Fonseka has said he was not sure whether Velupillai Prabhakaran was in the island nation.

Written by Agencies | Colombo | Published: January 18, 2009 2:36:13 pm

As Sri Lankan troops advance towards the last Tiger bastion of Mullaittivu,Army Chief Sarath Fonseka has said he was not sure whether Velupillai Prabhakaran was in the island nation but felt that it was not possible for the LTTE supremo to find a shelter in India.

“Well,I am not sure whether he is in Sri Lanka. There are ways to escape. But it is not possible for Prabhakaran to have gone to India. He will not be permitted there,” Fonseka told a group of Journalists in Colombo on Saturday evening.

Prabhakaran is wanted by New Delhi in connection with the 1991 murder of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and also listed by the European Union and United States as a terrorist organisation.

The Lankan Air Force had destroyed a vessel carrying arms and ammunitions for the LTTE just when it was being offloaded in the rebel coastal area,Fonseka said adding,this showed the rebels were still trying to smuggle things in and out of the country.

“Why can’t Prabhakaran also have tried to escape in this fashion with suicide crafts around him. But we are keeping a close watch,” he said.

According to a newspaper report,Prabhakaran lives in a sprawling air-conditioned bunker complex,located over 30 feet below the ground,and comes up to the surface only in the night to avoid detection.

Fonseka had earlier said that the 54-year-old Prabhakaran,who was dealt a stunning blow after the fall of Killinochchi and Elephant Pass,was hiding in the key Tiger bastion of Mullaittivu,a coastal town.

“The navy is on the alert to block any attempt by Prabhakaran or other senior LTTE leaders from escaping from the country,” an official said adding,”the Naval blockade has been imposed in Northern Mullaittivu”.

The army also said that several bunkers and a large quantity of weapons belonging to Tiger rebels have been recovered in Dharmapuram in Mullaithivu.

The troops have also reportedly found a bomb manufacturing centre,a three-storied underground bunker and a training camp in search operations in that area.

Dharmapuram was liberated last week by the 57 Division troops of the army as it gained total control over the Iranamadu Tank bund.

Last year,the army added the specialised Task Force-2 to supplement the four divisions that were engaged in attacking Mullaittivu,the headquarters of sea Tigers.

Top commanders believe that Prabhakaran,even if he is still in Sri Lanka,may now be confined to an area of 30 kms in the embattled north,living in a bunker.

Meanwhile,Navy spokesman Commander DKP Dassanayake said that the Navy had laid a security net around the coast off Mullaitivu.

“We have our fast attack craft,speed boats,radars and other equipment keeping watch throughout 24 hours,” Dassanayake said.

The navy’s defences had been laid in four rings along an area of 25 nautical mile distance off the Mullaitivu coast,he said.

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