Amid rumours of LTTE chief Velupillpai Prabhakaran’s being alive, Sri Lankan state TV showed gruesome images of a body it claimed was Tamil rebels leader’s.
In the picture, Prabhakaran, lying dead, was wearing his signature combat fatigues and a dog tag bearing the serial number “001”. His head was partly covered by a cloth but a gaping wound was clearly visible. Besides, a laminated Tamil Tiger ID card was also on display.
According to Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, a military spokesman, the body was recovered earlier on Tuesday and the officials were “100 percent positive” that it was Prabhakaran.
The defence ministry, on its webside, said that the army found Prabhakaran’s bullet-ridden body on the bank of the Nanthikadal lagoon.
Brigadier Nanayakkara said that Prabhakaran, who architected the 26-year civil war that claimed more than 70,000 lives, had been shot, probably in fierce fighting yesterday morning.
However, the announcement contradicted previous official claims that Prabhakaran’s badly burnt body had been discovered yesterday.
Military officials had said yesterday that Prabhakaran had been killed after he was ambushed by commandos as he made a desperate attempt to break through government lines in an ambulance.
Prabhakaran, who had sworn never to be taken alive, was badly burnt when his vehicle burst into flames, officials had said. No pictures were released of his body and DNA tests were ordered to prove his identity.
Brigadier Nanayakkara dismissed claims made by the Tigers’ chief of international relations this morning that Prabhakaran was alive and safe and would “continue to lead the quest for dignity and freedom for the Tamil people”.