LTTE marks 21st anniversary of its Black Tigers’ Day

July 6th, 2008 - 6:39 pm ICT by IANS  


Colombo, July 6 (IANS) The Tamil Tiger rebels Saturday commemorated the 21st anniversary of their deadliest weapon, the Black Tigers, and said 356 suicide cadres have blown themselves up so far in their campaign against the government and the security forces in Sri Lanka. The Black Tigers’ day fell on July 5 and the LTTE’s peace secretariat said in a statement to the media that the elusive rebel chief “Velupillai Prabhakaran, together with his senior commanders, and Black Tigers paid homage by lighting lamps at 7.05 p.m. to the martyred Black Tigers” at an unknown location in the rebel-held Wanni region Saturday.

It also sent photographs of the rebel chief in military fatigues paying homage to the Black Tigers who threw themselves as human bombs to hit their military as well as political targets elsewhere in the island nation.

“As many as 356 Black Tigers have laid down their lives, 254 of them in sea operations, during the last 21 years since July 5, 1987,” the pro-LTTE Tamilnet website reported Sunday.

“And 76 of the 254 Black Sea Tigers who have died were female commandos. 81 male and 71 female Black Tiger commandos have died in ground operations,” the web report said.

It was exactly 20 years ago that a senior LTTE cadre ‘Captain’ Millar drove an explosive-laden truck into a Sri Lankan military camp at Nelliyadi School in Vadamaradchchi in the northern Jaffna peninsula, killing 40 soldiers housed there. They carried out number of similar attacks since then using their suicide cadres.

In October last year, a 21-member Black Tiger commando team stormed a key Sri Lankan Air Force base in the north-central Anuradhapura district, destroying at least three aircraft, including two Russian-built MI-24 helicopters, and killing 13 airmen and a military officer.

If the LTTE can boast about its Black Tiger unit in waging its military campaign against the government forces for the past couple of decades, it is the same unit that contributed immensely in getting the outfit banned in several foreign countries.

The group was held responsible for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, who as Indian prime minister had ordered the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to disarm the Tigers in 1987.

This resulted in the Indian government banning the Tigers in India and continuing the ban since then. Several other countries, including the US and Britain as well as the European Union, had followed suit in later years, demanding that the Tigers denounce violence in word and deeds.

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