Sri Lankan troops search for LTTE chief

January 17th, 2009 - 12:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Jan 17 (Xinhua) Sri Lankan troops have launched a search to nab Tamil rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, believed to be hiding inside a 35-meter deep bunker in Mullaithivu district, the state radio said Saturday.The army has entered Mullaithivu district, the last bastion of the rebels since the capture of the entire northern Jaffna peninsula and the rebel outfit’s former administrative capital of Kilinochchi early this month, the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation said.

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) chief Prabhakaran has led an over three-decade-old separatist war with the government troops to set up a separate homeland for the minority Tamil community in the northern and eastern parts of the country.

The LTTE leader has lost almost 95 percent of the territory controlled by his outfit.

Although it is widely believed that he may escape through the sea route to a foreign land, the Sri Lankan Navy said its tight cordon in the northern and eastern seas would see to it that Prabhakaran won’t be able to escape.

Prabhakaran, 55, is wanted in India for the 1991 murder of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The Indian government has been renewing its extradition request ever since he was convicted by New Delhi.

Sri Lanka’s own judiciary has sentenced Prabakaran a 200 year jail term for carrying out the 1996 bombing of the Sri Lanka Central Bank in the capital Colombo.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse said last year that if nabbed, the LTTE leader would be handed over to the Indian authorities.

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