Those who helped Tigers acquire equipment identified – Govt.

Defence Spokesman, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella yesterday said that the government had identified local suppliers involved in the acquisition and transportation of sophisticated equipment to the LTTE a few years ago.

"We have the names of the persons who helped the Tigers to smuggle these items into the country and found safe passage for these material to the Vanni. The government will prosecute them in due course," he said.

"What baffles us is how these items were smuggled across the customs," Rambukwella said.

Addressing the weekly defence briefing he said: "Investigations have revealed that some customs men were in connivance with the culprits and these items had been smuggled into those areas during 2001-2004.

The Army was able to capture a major part of these equipment, after the Tiger strongholds in the Wanni and the North fell in quick succession to the advancing troops during the last few months, Rambukwella said.

Among the items that have been smuggled across were state of the art communication equipment, machinery for the Tiger printing presses from top brands like Heidelberg, backhoe machines and the most modern and sophisticated weapons.

"Tiger aircraft also have been smuggled into the Vanni and some other areas undetected in knocked down form," a military source said.

"Money has played a key role in this game and so much munitions and different warlike and other material required by the LTTE were transported in to the Tiger controlled areas via civilian routes, undetected. There is evidence that some of these elements are on the payroll of the terrorist outfit," the source said.

Top businessmen, politicians, INGO and NGO personnel and overseas personnel have been involved in this racket he said.

The Tigers once smuggled certain items by sea but were forced to look for other avenues the, source said.

During the abortive Ceasefire Agreement the LTTE received sophisticated communication equipment from Norway and a few other countries for their clandestine radio station ‘Voice of Tigers’ the source said.

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