Colombo, Nov 2: The LTTE today appointed its police chief, P Nadesan as the new political wing head after the death of S P Thamilselvan in an air strike by the Sri Lankan Air Force supersonic jets in the rebel-held Kilinochchi. 'Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam (LTTE) leader V Pirapaharan has appointed P Nadesan as the new political head following the demise of Brigadier S P Thamilselvan,' pro-LTTE Tamilnet.com website quoted rebel spokesman Irasiah Ilanthiryan as saying.
According to the report, Mr Nadesan, who is currently in-charge of the LTTE's police, 'will be in-charge of the two departments from now on.' Earlier, the rebels said in a statement that its political wing head, Thamilselvan was killed along with five other rebels in an aerial raid by the Sri Lankan Air Force supersonic jets this morning at 0600 AM (local time).
Thamilselvan is apparently a close confidante of the elusive rebel leader V Prabhakaran and took part in various rounds of peace talks with the Sri Lankan government during the past five years, the report said.
He led the peace delegation of the LTTE after the death of Anton Balasingham in London, it added.
The LTTE immediately declared three days of mourning and named Thamilselvan a brigadier, the highest rank conferred posthumously in the history of the LTTE. Thus he becomes the senior most rebel leader (self-style Brigadier) to be killed in the decades-long bloody ethnic conflict.
Although Thamilselvan had been heading the political wing of the LTTE, he was a military leader and lost his leg during a battle with the Sri Lankan army in the early 90s, said the website.
The Defence Ministry said that Sri Lanka Air Force supersonic fighter jets simultaneously carried out two air sorties targeting a gathering place of LTTE leaders and a Black Tiger base in Kilinochchi.
It said the air raid was launched at 0600 AM (local time) based on the information received from intelligence sources and continuous air surveillances conducted for a long period of time, but did not give the casualty details.
'One of the targets located at Thuruaiaru in Iranamadu, which is believed tobe an LTTE leaders' hideout, and the other, a Black Tiger base located at North-East of Iranamadu, were completely destroyed due to the air raid, pilots confirmed,' the Defence Ministry said.
It was only last week that a group of 21 LTTE suicide cadres launched a devastating attack on a key Air Force base at Anuradhapura, killing 14 security force personnel and destroying at least eight aircraft, including Russian-built MI-24 helicopters, and several unmanned aerial spy planes.
The Air Force, which claimed that its 'attack capability has not been reduced in any way due to the LTTE's Commando-style attack, has regularly been carrying out air strikes since then on the suspected rebel targets in the Wanni.'