Tamil Tiger political head killed in Sri Lanka raid

Tamil Tiger political wing leader SP Thamilselvan was killed in a Sri Lankan air force bombing raid early on Friday, the rebels said, in what analysts said was a body-blow to any hope of ending renewed civil war soon.

”With deep sorrow we announce to the people of Tamil Eelam, the Tamil people living all over the world and the international community, that at 6am today … head of our organisation’s political wing Brigadier SP Thamilselvan was killed by the Sri Lankan air force aerial bombing,” the rebels said on their website, www.ltteps.org.

Rebel aide Bawan, who works at Thamilselvan’s peace secretariat in the northern rebel stronghold of Kilinochchi, confirmed the news by telephone to Reuters.

Thamilselvan was the rebels’ main interlocutor at the last round of peace talks with the Sri Lankan government in October 2006, and was the international face of the separatist group led by shadowy rebel Velupillai Prabhakaran and widely outlawed as a terrorist organisation.

”The loss of Thamislevan in this way would be a very big setback to any hope of peace talks in the near future — which in any case were not apparent either,” said Jehan Perera of non-partisan advocacy group the National Peace Council.

”It just makes it an even bleaker scenario.”

An estimated 5 000 people have been killed since early last year amid near-daily land and sea clashes, ambushes and air strikes. The death toll since the conflict erupted in 1983 stands at about 70 000. — Reuters

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