Sri Lankan troops operating in Mullaitivu district have captured a palatial mansion believed to have been used by the Tamil Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, the army said in Colombo on Monday.
"A two-acre plot of land that houses a luxurious two-storeyed residential quarter, believed to have been used by none other than Prabhakaran himself was completely brought under the control of 58 Division troops as of late Sunday evening," Sri Lankan Army said.
It said that the two-storeyed fully furnished residential mansion with four separately air conditioned spacious rooms "had a firing range outside the building, which the troops believe would have been used for training by Prabhakaran himself or his top-rung leaders whenever he visited here."
It said that the house was provided electricity with three super sound generators and the entire house floor has been tiled with ceramics. All roads leading to the housing site were macadam and well prepared with nice landscaping, it said.
"The suspicion of Prabhakaran frequenting the place was further strengthened by the fact that the troops came across an expensive 'Marks & Spencer' shirt of 42-1/2 cm size, which is also said to be the shirt size of the terrorist leader," the army said, adding that several oxygen tanks were also recovered from there.
Prabhakaran, who founded the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1976, is known to have deep and seemingly secure underground caves and bunkers in the dense forests of Mullaitivu, from where he oversaw the war against Indian troops in Sri Lanka's northeast in 1987-90.
However, the present whereabouts of the elusive rebel chief are not known.
Carrying out a fight-to-finish campaign against the LTTE, the Sri Lankan army said last week that the 95 per cent of the war against the LTTE is over and the rebels are now confined to a 300 sq km area in the north-eastern Mullaitivu district, holding thousands of civilians as a human shield.
Sri Lanka Sunday said the LTTE has failed to allow free movement of civilians in conflict areas in the north of the island within the 48-hour deadline issued by the government, and accused them of continuing to worsen the people's sufferings.
"LTTE terrorists continued worsening suffering of the thousands of civilians entrapped in the outskirts of Mullaitivu, ignoring the 48-hour ultimatum served for the safe passage of civilians," the defence ministry said.
It also said that the government would "continue to adhere to the zero civilian casualty policy while engaging in its allout effort to eradicate the terrorists".
Meanwhile, the ICRC said that Puthukkudiyiruppu hospital in the LTTE-held northern Wanni region "was shelled" Sunday afternoon, "killing at least two people and injuring at least five others".
"The compound sustained two direct hits. We're shocked that the hospital was hit and this for the second time in recent weeks," Paul Castella, head of the Colombo delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said in a statement late Sunday.
"Wounded and sick people, medical personnel and medical facilities are all protected by international humanitarian law. Under no circumstance may they be directly attacked," it said. The hospital currently has over 500 in-patients, some of them still waiting to be transferred to the government-controlled area for more adequate treatment, it added.