12 Sea Tigers men, deputy chief killed, claims Sri Lanka

February 5th, 2009 - 8:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Feb 5 (IANS) At least 12 Sea Tigers men, including the wing’s deputy leader, were killed in fierce fighting with the Sri Lankan troops which are close to capturing the rebels’ last naval base in Mullaitivu district, the defence ministry said Thursday.Claiming that the fall of the Chalai Sea Tiger base was “imminent”, the defence ministry said that three other senior leaders of the naval wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were also among those killed in fierce fighting throughout Wednesday.

“LTTE Sea Tiger deputy leader, known as Vinayagam, was killed as troops of the 55 Division on a mission to capture the LTTE’s last Sea Tiger base at Chalai launched an effective offensive against LTTE resistance,” it said.

Citing the intercepted LTTE communications, the military said the rebels were “unable to locate the body of the killed deputy Sea Tiger leader so far as troops continued their offensive on remaining LTTE positions in the area”.

“Troops are now heading towards Chalai, the only remaining Sea Tiger base, gaining more LTTE hiding areas amidst stiff resistance given by the terrorists,” the ministry report said.

Sri Lanka Air Force said that its Russian-built Mig-27 fighter jets have bombed “an LTTE command centre and senior LTTE leaders’ hideout in general area of Puthukkudiyiruppu” Thursday morning.

Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said that air sorties were launched around 11 a.m. targeting the LTTE command centre and senior LTTE leaders’ hideout located 1.5 km north of Puthukkudiyiruppu.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake said the government was prepared to offer an amnesty to the Tamil Tiger rebels who lay down arms and surrender to government forces.

“There are reports that groups of people who took part in terrorist activities in the north are ready to give themselves up. It is a wise decision and we are ready to welcome them,” the prime minister told parliament Thursday during the debate for extension of emergency regulations.

He, however, did not give details about the terms of the proposed amnesty.

Although the premier made no references to the top leadership of the LTTE, senior officials have made it clear that there can be no pardon for LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran and his main lieutenants.

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