Prabhakaran was captured alive, then shot dead

Last Updated 05 June 2009, 19:25 IST

Sources close to the Sri Lankan army’s military intelligence disclosed to Deccan Herald that in the last gunfight between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan special forces, Prabhakaran’s bodyguards and a core of the Tigers’ fighting force exchanged heavy gunfire after they were surrounded.

The exchange of fire in the Vellamullivaikkal and Puthukudirippu areas did not last very long as the last of the LTTE fighters – estimated to be around 300 – ran out of ammunition.

According to the sources, when Prabhakaran’s bodyguards, numbering around 30, exhausted their ammunition, the LTTE chief was captured by the Sri Lankan special forces, and the organisation’s political head Balasingham Nadesan and the chief of the Tigers’ peace secretariat Seevaratnam Pulidevan surrendered.

“He (Prabhakaran) was captured alive after the Tigers ran out of ammo and then shot just like everybody else. No special treatment was given,” the source said. On May 19, television footage showed Prabhakaran’s body was found by the banks of Nanthikadal lagoon in the Mullaitivu area.

It has already been reported widely in British newspapers, including The Sunday Times and The Guardian how desperate attempts by Nadesan and Pulidevan to surrender were not taken seriously enough by the UN special envoy in Colombo, Vijay Nambiar, chief of staff to Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general.

When Nadesan and Pulidevan did try to surrender along with their families, waving white flags, they were machine-gunned.

But before that, as the source said, “they got on their knees begging for mercy. (But) no mercy (was shown) by the special forces”. Sources said that the Sri Lankan special forces located Prabhakaran’s hideout in Vellamullivaikkal at least two days before the end came.

Apart from LTTE intelligence chief Shanmugalingam Shivashankar, alias Pottu Amman, Prabhakaran’s family, and his bodyguards, only one other person knew of the Tiger chief’s whereabouts. That man is the LTTE’s medical unit head Reagan.

Reagan was nabbed during the Sri Lankan ground forces’ offensive in the first week of May. He is believed to have disclosed Prabhakaran’s lair during interrogation.

Reagan’s information was apparently corroborated by an LTTE ‘doctor’ identified as Susiran who visited Prabhakaran on May 10 to treat one Sithamparathasan, the head of the Tiger’s Ratha Regiment and a trusted lieutenant of the LTTE chief. Susiran, the source said, has “vanished”.

Reagan is believed to have told his captors that when the LTTE leadership saw that the organisation’s residual fighting force would be annihilated, an elaborate escape plan was worked out.

The plan envisaged crossing a lagoon in the Mullaitivu-Weli Oya jungles and from there to reach the Eastern province (Batticaloa/Ampara) via Trincomalee where a certain “Colonel” Ram’s team would provide them a final escape route out of the island country.
Sources said on May 17th dawn, the Tigers launched a daring sea-borne operation and even managed to breach an area covered by the Sri Lankan army’s 53rd Division.
They attacked an army bunker, killing at least 15 soldiers and captured an army ambulance.

It is not clear whether this ambulance was initially thought to have been used by Prabhakaran and his bodyguards to escape, although there are some reports that his body was found in it.

Sources, however, insisted that Prabhakaran’s bodyguards and he gave up firing when escape looked impossible only after the soldiers from the special forces and the 59th Division closed in.

The bullet wound just above his right temple and the absence of any other injury on his person suggests he was killed from close range.

Meanwhile, a Colombo court on Wednesday ordered the detention till June 9 of a suspected LTTE intelligence operative, identified as Gunasundaram Jayasundaram, with the Terrorist Investigation Division.

Jayasundaram is suspected to own business establishments in Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and Ukraine.

Proceeds from these “businesses” are suspected to have been used for the purchase of firearms and ammunition for the rebels.

(Published 05 June 2009, 19:23 IST)

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