SP Tamilselvan, head of the political wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the group's principal spokesperson, was killed in an air raid conducted by the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) early on Friday, the LTTE announced.
Awarded the rank of Brigadier posthumously, Tamilselvan is technically the highest ranking LTTE military leader to be killed by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces in the 25 year war in the Tamil-speaking North and East of the island.
The Tamilnet website quoted a press communiqué issued by the LTTE saying that "Brigadier" Tamilselvan was killed along with five other military leaders of the LTTE in an aerial bombardment of Kilinochchi at 6 am.
The LTTE communiqué said that others killed in the air raid were: Lt.Col.Anpumani alias Alex, Major Mikuthan, Captain Neathaji, Lt Aadchivel and Lt Vaakaikkumaran.
The Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense confirmed the death of Tamilselvlan in the air raid.
The SLAF had stepped up its bombing of the LTTE's bases in the Wanni, especially Kilinochchi district, where the LTTE has its headquarters, after the Tamil militant group conducted an aerial cum ground attack on the air base at Anuradhapura, 210 km north of Colombo on October 22, destroying more than eight aircraft costing US$ 30 to 40 million.
Was key negotiator
Though head of the political wing for a number of years, Tamilselvan was a military officer himself before he was wounded in battle. Tamilselvan was given the rank of Brigadier, the highest in the LTTE, posthumously. The senior most position in the LTTE's military structure is "Colonel".
Always with a walking stick, the ever smiling Tamilselvan was a competent public speaker. He was known for good public relations. He is the LTTE leader who met foreign diplomats and journalists on behalf of the LTTE.
A close confidante of the LTTE Supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran, Tamilselvan had led the LTTE's delegation at peace talks with the Sri Lankan government after the political eclipse and later the death of the group's ideologue, Anton Balasingham.