by Harischandra Gunaratna and
The LTTEin total disarray ordered the closure of
all shops in Kilinochchi and maintained radio silence following
yesterday’s decapitating air strike on a hideout known as ‘X-ray
base’, at Iranamadu, frequented by LTTE leader Prabhakaran
around 11.15 yesterday morning.
Although the fate of the Tiger chief was not
immediately known, the military was confident that he could have
been in the heavily fortified bunker at the time of the raid.
"We are awaiting confirmation from our intelligence operatives
on the ground," a high ranking military officer told The
Island adding that he was almost certain Prabhakaran had
been there at that time. "The bunker has been reduced to dust,"
he claimed, "several LTTEleaders may have bee killed."
He admitted that deadly bunker busters weighing
about 1,000 kg each had been used as the SLAF ‘didn’t want to
leave anything to chance’.
Migs and Kfirs, on a low flying mission had
targeted the base, located East of the Iranamadu Tank in the
Kalmadukulama area the SLAF sources said.
Military Intelligence had been watching the LTTE
leader’s movements in the Wanni during the last few days. They
had reported their findings about his presence in this hideout
to the SLAF.
According to Air Force spokesman Wing Commander
Andrew Wijesuriya the sorties were carried out on information
obtained through real-time air surveillance and ground
reconnaissance. He also said that the targeted location had been
under reconnaissance for some time. Combat pilots had confirmed
that the target was accurately hit, he said.
The Defence Ministry said in a communique that
the air raid had been timed for a "special" activity that was
going on at the LTTE base.
However, sources refrained from commenting
further on the issue. They said the targeted ‘terror hub’ was
located in a thick jungle patch, North of the LTTE's runway in
Iranamadu. The area has been long demarcated as a ‘high security
zone’ out of bounds for civilians.
The SLAF has been continuously supporting the
ground troops in their ongoing operations in the North and the
On November 26, it was reported that Prabhakaran
had received minor injuries in an attack by the SLAF but the
LTTE website denied the story.
However, the LTTE leadership was furious that a
number of its top leaders, as well as second level local
leaders, were also targeted in the combined operations by the
armed forces and the police commandos in the recent months. In
retaliation they have started attacking civilians in the deep
south and other parts of the island.