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SL Army chief did not used bulletproof car

If the General survived the blast it was because a motorcycle outrider had taken the brunt, writes PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Apr 30, 2006 18:48 IST

The Sri Lankan Army chief, Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka, who was critically injured in an LTTE suicide bomb attack on April 25, had not used the bullet proof BMW which President Mahinda Rajapaksa had given him in view of the threat to his life, The Sunday Times has revealed.

"Instead, he used a Peugeot 406 for travel within the headquarters complex or to proceed to the Ministry of Defence located next door," writes the weekly's Defence Correspondent, Iqbal Athas.

The bullet proof BMW would have been an added protection for him.

If the General survived the blast it was because a motorcycle outrider had taken the brunt.

According to Athas, there was an intelligence warning five months ago, about the LTTE's plan to infiltrate the Army Headquarters and assassinate Gen Fonseka, who was known to be uncompromisingly foe and tough as nails.

Following the intelligence tip offs, some elementary security systems like asking visitors to surrender their National Identity Cards in exchange for a Special Visitor's Pass at the gate, had been put in place.

But the General continued to use his unprotected Peugeot inside the complex.

Also, no thought was given to shifting the Army Hospital, which was in many ways a public place with relatives, friends and visitors legitimately gaining entry during specified hours.

The LTTE's deciding to exploit this chink in the armour was only a matter of time, security experts said.

Big money to lure collaborators

Athas has also revealed that the LTTE has been using big money to lure collaborators, who may be Sinhala or Muslim and not necessarily fellow Tamils.

The obscure Sinhala journalist who had helped kill senior Army intelligence operative Lt Col Nizam Muthaliff in Colombo on May 3, 2005, was paid SLRs.1.3 million in advance, he says.

Athas suspects that somebody inside the complex might have been paid a huge amount of money to signal the suicide bomber, Anoja Kuganesarasa, when Gen Fonseka left his office on the fateful afternoon.

He says that investigations had revealed that just before she went in for the kill at a little past 1.45 pm, she had received a call on her mobile.

Former SL anti-terror expert may be working for LTTE

The Sunday Times has also revealed that a former top Sri Lankan anti-terror expert, T Jeyaratnam, may be working for the LTTE following his mysterious abduction from Colombo on April 27, 2005.

According to the paper, intelligence sources have confirmed that Inspector Jayaratnam was smuggled out of the Negombo coastline just north of Colombo, to Kilinochchi, the headquarters of the LTTE's intelligence unit led by T Sivasankaran, alias Pottu Amman.

A recent raid at Jeyaratnam's residence in Colombo had unearthed a sophisticated rifle, the kind which was used in the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in August 2005.

Prior to his abduction, Inspector Jeyaratnam had been under a severe threat from the LTTE, which made him seek a transfer.

First Published: Apr 30, 2006 18:48 IST