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Lanka worried over ‘UN cover’ for LTTE assassins
* Suspected assassin passed Omanthai entry point before cops apprehended him

Security forces are investigating the possibility of the LTTE using cover of the United Nations and various other international organizations to facilitate its covert operations.

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama Wednesday night expressed serious concern over the arrest of an armed UNDP worker at a joint army-police check point south of Vavuniya earlier in the day. The Minister said the issue would be raised with the relevant agencies.

The Defence Ministry said personnel at Irattaperiyakulam road block had trapped the UNDP worker carrying a micro pistol on Wednesday afternoon. The ministry said the suspect had been employed by the World Food Programme.

The suspect Thiagaraja Prabhakaran was a resident of Batticaloa, Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said adding that at the time of the arrest he had been attached to the UNDP office at Kilinochchi.

He had been on his way to Batticaloa from Kilinochchi when police had zeroed-in on him.

The Brigadier said the magazine of the micro pistol recovered from the suspect had been secreted in the false bottom of one of his shoe.

Police sources said the suspect had entered the Vavuniya town through the Omanthai entry/exit point undetected. He could be an assassin tasked with targeting a senior police or a military official based in Vavuniya, they said.

Wednesday’s arrest revealed the likelihood of the LTTE using UN cover to mount operations in the South. "We expect the UN to take up this issue immediately," a senior Defence Ministry official said. The possibility of people on UN Payroll being assassins for an organisation proscribed in the US, UK and India was an extremely serious matter, he said.

Under interrogation, the suspect had claimed that an LTTE cadre handed him the weapon and directed him to hand it over to a person in Batticaloa. He had claimed the LTTE paid him Rs.30,000 and promised a further Rs.20,00 when he completed the task.

The military said the LTTE wouldn’t have paid the suspect to carry a weapon. They would have simply ordered him to carry out their order, an official said.

LTTE assassins had used micro pistols to carry out killings in the northern and eastern provinces and Colombo.

Emphasising that the suspect was trying to mislead investigators, the military said the UN should investigate whether the LTTE was using its employees to move arms, ammunition and other equipment to areas under government control.

The sources said other foreign agencies, too, should take notice of Wednesday’s arrest.

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