Prabhakaran still in Sri Lanka, but son playing key role (Lead)

February 15th, 2009 - 5:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Feb 15 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s elusive Tamil Tigers leader Velupillai Prabhakaran is still in the island but his elder son Charles Antony is playing a key role in the fight against advancing troops, a newspaper said Sunday quoting two surrendered suicide bombers.

The state-run Sunday Observer reported on the basis of the confessional statements by the two guerrillas that Charles Antony, who was born in 1985, was commanding the guerrillas along with top leaders of the outfit, Banu and Lakshman.

Charles Antony, the two guerrillas said, headed the IT unit of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“According to them, with the battle hotting up, Prabhakaran had sent his wife Madivadani and their youngest son, 10-year-old Balachandran, to a safer location,” the Observer said.

It added that Charles Anthony was increasingly playing a key role in the LTTE. Prabhakaran also has a daughter, who according to some accounts may be living in Ireland.

Prabhakaran, facing the most serious crisis since Tamil insurgency broke out over a quarter century ago, remains holed up in the rapidly shrinking territory still held by the LTTE. Many have claimed that Prabhakaran may have already fled Sri Lanka.

This was not true, said the surrendered LTTE guerrillas, Kanakasuthasan Suthas alias Shanker and Thillainathan Thivakaran alias Thamil Alai, both of who are in the early 20s.

“Prabhakaran is still in Wanni (LTTE held area) and will continue to hold innocent civilians until the military captures him,” one of the two suicide bombers said.

The two “Black Tigers” surrendered to the 57 Division Jan 28 after failing to blast the bund of the giant Iranaimadhu Tank in Mullaitivu district so as to trigger flash floods that could have killed thousands of soldiers.

The two, apparently well-trained in under water operations, were detected near the Iranaimadhu tank, days after the LTTE exploded another tank at Kalmadukulam, also in Mullaitivu.

The Iranaimadhu tank is where a sea plane carrying LTTE’s late political advisor Anton Balasingham and wife Adele landed in 2001, a year before the now dead Norway-brokered peace process got underway.

According to the Sunday report, the revelations by the suicide cadres “confirmed the LTTE had more terror plans … to reverse the security forces victories” though the Tigers have been cornered in a small stretch of land in Mullaitivu.

They said they were briefed about their mission by Charles Anthony.

“Sea Tigers leader Soosai (was) also there when Charles Anthony briefed them,” the Observer said, adding the two suicide cadres were trained to swim more than 10 km at a stretch under water.

Before they were taken to Vishwamadhu for the mission, it said the suicide cadres “had dinner with Prabhakaran in December at an unknown location”.

The menu included mutton and string hoppers.

“Charles Anthony explained his plan to the Black Tiger cadres through a computer presentation,” the report said. “They (were) asked to explode the tank bund at a depth of 20 feet to cause maximum damage.”

They were provided claymore mines, diving kits, chargers and satellite phones.

“Charles Anthony and Soosai had estimated that 5,000 soldiers would die in the floods following the blast of the Iranaimadhu tank bund,” it said quoting the suicide cadres.

Prabhakaran, who founded the LTTE in 1976, is known to have deep underground caves and bunkers in the forests of Mullaitivu, from where he oversaw the war against Indian troops in Sri Lanka in 1987-90.

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