Prabhakaran still in Sri Lanka: Foreign minister

May 1st, 2009 - 3:44 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has said that LTTE chief V. Prabhakaran is still in the small strip of coastal land the rebels hold in the island’s north.
In an interview broadcast on an Indian television channel Friday, Bogollagama said government forces were “almost near capturing” Prabhakaran.

“We believe that he is still there,” he said, adding that the whereabouts of Prabhakaran’s family or close associates was not known.

“Any space that he creates or room we leave will only give him area for him to create exit for his own survival,” Bogollagama said.

On India’s demand for Prabhakaran’s extradition to stand trial for the 1991 assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, the Sri Lankan minister said that first his government will take “all legal steps in terms of local law and then we will look at all options”.

Sri Lanka has been under international pressure to halt military operations to allow humanitarian relief to the thousands of civilians caught in the hostilities between the troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The Sri Lankan government had ordered a halt in the use of heavy artillery and combat jets, but refused to stop fighting till Prabhakaran was captured.

The LTTE has been fighting to carve out a separate state in Sri Lanka’s northern and eastern region over the past quarter century.

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