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Prabhakaran may be dead - Lankan official

world Updated: Dec 30, 2007 14:51 IST

Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has hinted that Tamil Tigers chief Velupillai Prabhakaran might have been killed in the air raid on his bunker November 26.

"Our intelligence sources believe that he (Prabhakaran) was seriously injured or killed. It is obvious that the LTTE will not divulge this for a long period," Rajapaksa told the government-run Sunday Observer.

He discounted the validity of the pictures put out by the LTTE of Prabhakaran delivering his annual Heroes' Day address over TV and radio November 27, a day after he was supposedly injured or killed in an air raid.

"The LTTE can also publish pictures but (the pictures do) not give any indication that he is alive, until he comes for a public meeting," Rajapaksa said.

In another interview in the same paper, Sri Lanka's army chief Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka said the Sri Lankan Air Force had plans to attack all LTTE bases in the north Sri Lanka.

According to Gen Fonseka, the LTTE is left with only 3,000 cadres.

"Over 500 cadres have been killed by the armed forces. We have weakened the LTTE by 50 percent or more and we are confident we can go that extra mile in the coming year," said the general, who survived an attempt on his life by an LTTE suicide bomber in April 2006.

Asked if Prabhakaran's death would mean the end of the LTTE, Rajapaksa said that it might not be so but it would be a "major factor that would gradually destroy their organisation".