Prabhakaran's days are numbered: LAF chief

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Colombo, Nov 11: Claiming that the days of the Tamil Tiger rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran were numbered, Sri Lanka's Air Force commander said his airmen would go all out to target the elusive rebel chief soon, a media report here said.

''The Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) will go all out to get rid of the LTTE leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran soon,'' Air Marshal Roshan Goonatilleke told the state-run Sunday Observer newspaper here in Colombo.

The Air Force chief, pointed out that Prabhakaran was now confined to a very limited area of land in Wanni and therefore it was not a big deal to find out his whereabouts.''I do not think it is that difficult for us to get at him now. We will find him somehow soon. We need a great deal of patience'', Air Marshall Goonatilleke was quoted as saying.

''Since Prabhakaran's movements are restricted to a very limited area in Wanni, the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) also seeks the support of the civilians to make its target more accurate. When people in the area provide information we will be ready to target him,'' the Air Force chief said, adding that President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his government were giving their full support to such military operations.

The remarks by the Air Force commander came a week after LTTE's political wing head, SP Thamilselvan was killed along with six other senior cadres when supersonic jets of the Sri Lankan Air Force carried out an air raid in the rebel-held Kilinochchi region on November 2.

The Air Force chief's remarks have also come at a time when various rebel commanders were talking of ''retaliations, consequences and fitting replies'' for the aerial attack that killed their political wing chief.

Pro-LTTE websites have quoted LTTE's Sea Tiger wing chief Soosai and Peace Secretariat head S Pulidevan as making those references during their funeral speeches.

On October 22, 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 had 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.

UNI

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