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Thamilselvan killed in SLAF air strike

S.P. Thamilselvan, the political wing leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and its de-facto number two, was killed in a Sri Lanka Air Force air strike at dawn yesterday.

SLAF MiG 27 and Kfir fighter jets which went into action yesterday morning took precise targets in the south of Kilinochchi resulting in the deaths of 40-year-old Thamilselvan and five other Tiger leaders.

The LTTE Peace Secretariat website based in Kilinochchi announced the death of the LTTE Political wing leader hours after the SLAF air raids in the south of Kilinochchi and east of Iranamadu, admitting the fact that he was killed due to the air strikes of the SLAF.

He was the highest-ranking member of the LTTE to be killed by Security Forces so far. However, the LTTE did not mention the exact location of the incident.

Air Force Spokesman Group Captain Ajantha Silva confirmed that both Kfir and MiG 27 fighter jets pounded Thiruvaiaru, a location three kilometres South of Kilinochchi around 6 a.m. yesterday on ‘very reliable information’, identifying the location as a meeting place of LTTE leaders.

“Our pilots had taken a precise target and it was further confirmed with the LTTE admitting that Thamilselvan was killed in the air strike,” Group Captain Ajantha Silva added.

Five other Tiger leaders ‘Lt. Col.’ Anpumani alias Alex, ‘Major’ Mihuthan, ‘Major’ Nethagy, ‘Lieutenant’ Adchgivel and ‘Lieutenant’ Vahakai Kumaran were also killed in the air strike according to pro-LTTE websites.

Their meeting place has now been conformed as an international communications centre run by ‘Lt.Col’ Alex. It was also a centre for logistics, arms procurement, fund raising and operational matters.

“Simultaneously the fighter jets also pounded a Black Tiger camp in the East of Iranamadu,” the spokesman said.

The LTTE has posthumously promoted S.P. Thamilselvan to the self styled rank of ‘Brigadier’ after his death. According to sources this is the first occasion the Tiger outfit has promoted one of their leaders to the rank of a ‘Brigadier’. It has also declared three days of mourning in areas they dominate.

Suppiah Paramu Thamilselvan was born on August 24, 1967 in Kilinochchi, the heart of Wanni and joined the LTTE after the 1983 riots in Colombo.

According to sources he had undergone military training in India and at one time has acted as personal bodyguard of Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

During the Pooneryn battle in 1993 Thamilselvan was left with a permanent limp due to shrapnel injuries caused to his leg. He used a trademark walking stick and frequently wore spectacles.

He participated in all peace negotiations on behalf of the LTTE after the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement in February 2002. As the public face of the LTTE, he also met visiting foreign diplomats, peace facilitators and journalists in Kilinochchi.

However, according to peace negotiators Thamilselvan was not a skilled negotiator compared to the late Anton Balasingham who led the peace negotiation teams on behalf of the LTTE prior to his death.

With the escalation of violence between the Security Forces and the LTTE and with the LTTE facing a severe shortage of fighting cadres, Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran recently assigned him as the military leader in the Pooneryn sector.

“The head of our organisation’s political division, Brigadier S.P. Thamilselvan, was killed by the Sri Lankan Air Force aerial bombing,” the LTTE said in a statement.

Thamilselvan’s killing follows the death of former chief negotiator Anton Balasingham last December. His killing is seen as a major blow to the organisation.

 

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