LTTE finance chief killed, troops seize fresh territory (Lead)

March 12th, 2009 - 6:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, March 12 (IANS) The Tamil Tigers’ financial head has been killed in fighting in Sri Lanka, officials said Thursday, as soldiers seized more territory from the cornered guerrillas.
The defence ministry also said that soldiers stormed a hospital in Puthukkudiyiruppu in Mullaitivu district which had been reportedly turned into a major rebel hideout.

“Soldiers of the 53 Division and Task Force 8 entered the hospital premises, driving away LTTE terrorists who had turned it into a major LTTE hideout (since) January,” the ministry said.

In what is seen as a major blow to the rebels, the government Thursday announced the death of Subarathnam Selvatureiy alias Thamilendi, the trusted financial chief of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

It said Thamilendi was killed Tuesday in confrontation with the troops in the east of Puthukkudiyiruppu, where the military has been locked in intense fighting against the LTTE for weeks.

“Thamilendi was a high profile LTTE leader and he handled the LTTE’s bank accounts, tax collecting and all other matters relating to the outfit’s finances,” the ministry said.

He was believed to be a confidant of LTTE’s elusive chief Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Thamilendi is the most senior LTTE operative to be killed after November 2007 when its former political wing chief S.P. Thamilselvan died in an air raid in Kilinochchi.

LTTE’s former political advisor and chief negotiator Anton Balasingham died in December 2006 in London after suffering from cancer.

The military said it was in the final phase of recapturing the last of territory still held by the LTTE, which officials say is now confined to a land area of less than 40 sq km in Mullaitivu district.

The defence ministry also said that troops engaged in search operations had recovered buried LTTE aircraft parts.

Calling it a startling recovery, it said the troops have “uncovered aircraft tyres, batteries, engine parts and several other accessories, kept buried by Tigers in oil barrels”.

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