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Senior Tamil rebel to 'assist' SL govt: report

world Updated: Jun 20, 2010 12:22 IST

A senior leader of Sri Lanka's defeated Tamil Tiger rebels has agreed to help the government in its post-war reconstruction efforts, a state-run newspaper reported on Sunday.

The Sunday Observer said Selvarasa Pathmanathan, formerly the chief arms smuggler for the rebels, had already been working to convince Tiger sympathisers abroad that the fight for an independent Tamil homeland was over.

Government troops defeated the Tamil Tigers in May last year after decades of bloody separatist warfare on the island.

"Pathmanathan told The Sunday Observer that several Tiger activists living abroad had now begun to understand the ground realities," the paper said under the headline: "Tamil intellectuals, ex-militant sympathisers to assist the government."

"The ex-Tiger stalwart said that there should not be room for petty differences and all must work towards stabilising the hard earned peace," the paper said without quoting him directly.

Pathmanathan, who is better known as KP, was appointed chief international representative of the Tigers by rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran shortly before Prabhakaran was killed in the last days of the war.

The Colombo government claimed Pathmanathan was taken into custody in August following a covert operation in an unnamed southeast Asian country. Since then he has been held at an undisclosed location in Sri Lanka.

The UN estimates that up to 100,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict which began in the 1970s. The UN has also reported that at least 7,000 civilians were killed in the final few months of fighting.