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Prabhakaran makes appearance

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers said their elusive leader made a rare public appearance on Monday.
PTI | By Agence France-Presse, Colombo
PUBLISHED ON JAN 18, 2005 02:56 AM IST

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers said their elusive leader made a rare public appearance on Monday, his first since tsunamis devastated the island, and urged Tamils in areas under his control not to depend on handouts.

Velupillai Prabhakaran made the appearance in the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi, the guerrillas said, ending weeks of speculation he may have died in the December 26 disaster.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), known for their trademark suicide bombings, posted pictures on their website of the 50-year-old rebel leader meeting aides handling relief operations in guerrilla-held areas.

"Let this disaster not turn our people into a community dependent on relief aid and I request you in earnest to formulate plans that would provide them the impetus to build a future of their own," Prabhakaran was quoted as saying.

Two days ago, senior LTTE official S Puleedevan discounted reports in state-run media Prabhakaran had been killed and said the rebels' chief would be meeting with the visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen.

"He is going to meet the Norwegian foreign minister next week," Puleedevan, head of LTTE's peace secretariat said.

The state-run Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation Last week reported Prabhakaran and his intelligence chief Pottu Amman were among the dead or missing in the tsunamis that lashed much of the island's coastline.

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