Prabhakaran critically injured last year: Sri Lanka air chief

February 16th, 2008 - 1:03 pm ICT by admin  

By P.K. Balachandran
Colombo, Feb 16 (IANS) Tamil Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran was “critically injured” in an air raid on Nov 26, 2007, said Air Marshal Roshan Goonetilleke, commander of the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF). However, B. Nadesan, head of the political wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), said the claim was baseless.

On Friday, Goonetilleke told the state-owned television network ITN that Prabhakaran’s presence in the targeted site was evident in the volume of anti-aircraft fire that the raiders faced.

A mobile anti-aircraft unit always accompanied the rebel chieftain where he went, the air chief said in support of his claim.

It could be surmised that the rebel chieftain was hit on that day, from two facts: firstly, all the 20 bombs dropped were bang on the targeted bunkers, destroying them totally; secondly, Prabhakaran has not been seen anywhere outside since then, Goonetilleke said.

“He had not even attended the funeral of Charles, his trusted chief of military intelligence,” the air chief said.

But denying the incident in an interview to the Tamil daily Thinakkural, LTTE’s spokesperson Nadesan said Prabhakaran’s defences were foolproof and impregnable.

“Nobody can approach our leader,” he said.

The Sri Lankan air chief discounted the story that Prabhakaran had left the shores of the country for medical treatment.

“A terrorist leader usually doesn’t leave his movement at a critical juncture like this as he fears that someone else might take his place,” Goonetilleke said.

Asked when the LTTE would be defeated, he said: “Very shortly.”

Earlier, the government had said the war would be over by August this year before the summit of the South Asian heads of government to be held at Kandy in Sri Lanka.

But Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka had said it would be over before he retired at the end of the year. More recently, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told a foreign magazine interviewer that it would take another year and a half.

Reacting to this, Nadesan said there was “no military pressure” on the organisation’s defences in the north for the government to talk of any such time schedules.

He charged that the government was hiding the bitter truth from the people of south Sri Lanka, which was that the army was taking heavy casualties and burying its dead on the spot, instead of taking the bodies to south Sri Lanka for funerals.

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