/ 19 May 2009

Tamil Tiger leader is dead, says Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s army chief said Tamil Tiger leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran’s body was found on Tuesday, as Sri Lankan TV stations aired video of what appeared to his corpse, with the top of its head blown off.

There was no independent confirmation available.

Private TV stations Derana and Swarnavahini showed soldiers surrounding what they said was Prabhakaran’s body, with his trademark moustache and distinctive Tiger stripe camouflage fatigues.

The military said the body was found in a lagoon.

A blue cloth covered the top of the head, which appeared shorn off. The video showed a copy of a military ID tag written in Tamil, bearing the number ”0:01”, and what appeared to be an Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) identity card with his photograph.

The army’s commander, General Sarath Fonseka, moments earlier had gone on state TV and radio to announce that the body had been found on Tuesday and positively identified.

”The good news from the war front is that the body of the leader of the terrorist organisation that destroyed the country for the last 30 years, Prabhakaran, has been found this morning [Tuesday] by the army. We have identified the body,” he said.

Fonseka’s announcement came after the LTTE made a statement on a pro-rebel website saying Prabhakaran (54) was still alive.

”I wish to inform the global Tamil community, distressed at witnessing the final events of the war, that our beloved leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, is alive and safe,” www.TamilNet.com quoted LTTE diplomatic head Selvarajah Pathmanathan as saying.

State TV on Monday reported that Prabhakaran was dead, and military sources have given differing stories about how and where he was killed.

Fonseka did not give an account of where Prabhakaran’ body was found, nor how he was killed.

Sri Lankan troops finished off the last of the LTTE resistance on Monday, wrapping up a three-year offensive to destroy the separatists and win an 25-year-civil war. — Reuters