Saturday, August 8, 2009
New Tamil Tigers leader arrested
Sri Lankan authorities confirmed yesterday that they have arrested Kumaran Pathmanathan, the new leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Pathmanathan - or 'KP' as he is widely known - was being interrogated in the capital of Colombo after being handed over to the country's authorities on Thursday. He took over as the LTTE's leader after government forces routed the Tigers and killed their leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, on May 18.
KP was arrested on Wednesday, but it is not clear where. Early reports said he was arrested at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur while headed for a meeting with relatives of the group's slain political leader Balasingham Nadesan. But a source in Malaysia denied this. Thai officials denied he was arrested here but two well-placed sources in Thailand told The Straits Times that Pathmanathan had been arrested in Bangkok.
Sri Lankan military sources, said security agencies had sent teams to Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia to hunt him down, using information gleaned from Prabhakaran's mobile phone found on his body. KP has lived in Thailand and made trips to other countries using different passports and aliases.
His arrest removes the last remaining top man of the LTTE. Like Prabhakaran, he hails from Jaffna. He was the LTTE's chief fund-raiser and arms procurer, and was in control of business interests and a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars.
His existence at large created a doubt in the minds of ordinary people that the LTTE was alive and kicking. His arrest shows that we are capable of demolishing any future emergence of the LTTE.