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Sri Lankan military launches operation to capture LTTE Chief

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, June 12, IRNA
Sri Lanka-Operation
Sri Lankan military has launched a major offensive to capture "alive" the elusive LTTE supremo, Velupillai Prabhakaran, believed to be hiding in a bunker in the rebel stronghold of Mullaitivu, the army chief said in Colombo.

"The security forces are attacking Mullaitivu, Prabhakaran's hideout, from several directions.... The Army's aim is to capture Prabhakaran, who is holed up in a bunker, alive," said Sarath Fonseka, the army chief who survived an LTTE suicide attack in 2006, PTI reported.

The 53-year-old LTTE chief has eluded the country's military which had last year said he was injured in an air raid on a bunker but the Tamil Tigers outrightly rejected the claim.

Four divisions were attacking Mullaitivu and "Task Force 2 will also be inducted to expedite the operation," Fonseka told the state- owned Sinhala Newspaper Dinamina.

"Troops are attacking the LTTE's 1-4 Base complex in a preliminary bid to reach Mullaitivu. Prabhakaran is believed to be living in an underground bunker in the area," he said.

Forces have regained several hundred square kilometres of land where the Tigers held sway and they have to march forward another 21 km to achieve the final goal, he said.

Fighting between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam and the military has intensified in the country's north since the government scrapped a tattered 2004 ceasefire in January.

"Prabhakaran is cowardly attacking civilians in the south, unable to face the military onslaught," Fonseka said.

The government and the security forces are determined to liberate the Northern masses from the "tyranny" of the Tigers, as they did in the East, he said adding "our forces' morale is very high. They are determined to achieve victory."
Fonseka had suffered serious injuries during an assassination attempt on April 25, 2006 near Colombo.

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