Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pottu Amman in command: Army ? - The Hindu

B. Muralidhar Reddy

Prabakaran’s mental health deteriorating, it says


“Pottu Amman has appointed Velawan as military chief”

“Cadre ordered to kill escaping civilians”


COLOMBO: The head of the intelligence wing of the LTTE, Pottu Amman, has taken overall command of the terror outfit owing to “fast deteriorating mental health condition” of Velupillai Prabakaran, said the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry on Wednesday.

The Ministry said the government-designated “No-Fire Zone” (NFZ), meant for the civilians held hostage by the LTTE in Wanni, had now become a sanctuary for top LTTE leaders including Prabakaran. Estimates of the number of civilians in the NFZ vary from 50,000 to 1,00,000.

Asked about the report on Pottu Amman taking overall command of the LTTE, military spokesperson Udaya Nanayakkara told The Hindu that the information was based on intelligence intercepts and the military was not in a position to confirm the veracity of the report.

The Defence Ministry said Pottu Amman, having no battlefield experience, reportedly appointed Velawan, the last of LTTE’s battle-hardened cadre, as the outfit’s new military chief.

It quoted civilians seeking refuge with the Army as saying that Pottu Amman had issued strict orders to the cadre manning the borders of the NFZ to kill any civilian, irrespective of their age or gender, who tried to escape from the NFZ.

“The orders have been given following the outfit’s recent debacle in Puthukkudiyiruppu east. According the civilians, the infamous LTTE intelligence leader has convinced the LTTE cadre that the civilians are their last hope for survival,” said the Ministry.

It quoted an unnamed senior defence observer as saying: “It is nothing new, he knows that he can easily mislead international community using LTTE agents abroad and the outfit’s hired hands in international media and NGOs. He knows that continued and sustained sufferings of the Tamil civilians in the NFZ are the only thing that can save his life.”

The Military further said security forces had several confrontations with the Tiger cadre manning the last LTTE earth bund situated outside the NFZ, west of Ampalavanpkkanai.

It said snipers deployed in the forward areas confirmed acquisition of 11 LTTE targets.

The military also said several loud explosions were heard in the NFZ soon after Army made the “final announcement” asking the LTTE to release the civilians held hostage by them in the afternoon.

“The Army has made announcement using loudspeakers positioned [a] few hundred metres short of the western border of the NFZ. Army suspects that the terrorists have launched some sort of an attack at the civilians who tried to escape their rule,” it said. Meanwhile, the military said soldiers poised to liberate the northern banks of the Nanthikandal lagoon, which is still under the LTTE hold, were now manoeuvring out of the Puthukkudiyiruppu east area.

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