Prabhakaran’s fate not known after decapitation air strike|
Deadly bunker busters used to inflict maximum damage|
Tigers maintain radio silence, order closure of shops
Tip-off rattles LTTEintelligence unit

by Harischandra Gunaratna and Norman Palihawadana

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 Vanni.

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.



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