[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

The Tigers' Leadership Stands Pat

Nov. 28, 1997


The Tigers' Leadership Stands Pat

It is now clear that the leader of the militant separatist Tamil movement,
Velupillai Prabhakaran, is still in Sri Lanka.  Questions arose after a
flotilla of nearly 50 boats was reportedly spotted escorting a launch out to
sea off the eastern coast of the island nation in the second week of
November. The group is said to have met up with a freighter, and passengers
were exchanged.  Officials say they are investigating the reports, but have
not been able to confirm them.

While some sectors of the government are spreading disinformation that
Prabhakaran has fled the country, high-level sources told Asiaweek that ?
even though the Sri Lankan Army is pressing within a few kilometers of his
major base in the eastern district of Mullaitivu ? the rebel leader is still
in Sri Lanka, and remains firmly in command of the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam (LTTE).  And, these sources say, that high-seas rendevous may
have brought a dangerous passenger into the country.  Kumaran Pathmanathan,
the movement's main arms buyer, who operates mainly out of Bangkok, has
suddenly appeared in Sri Lanka.  The recent loss of a consignment of arms
when the Sri Lankan air force seized a freighter off Mullaitivu on Nov. 2,
may have prompted his visit.

Even though Prabhakaran is still in the country, he is believed to have made
arrangements for possible temporary exile or retreat.  With ever fewer
countries supporting the LTTE's activities, the Tiger leader's escape route
? and possible headquarters in exile ? would most likely be Myanmar.  The
LTTE has several camps in remote regions where it is said to be training and
collaborating with Burmese rebel groups and heroin traders.