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Tamils preparing for war: Rebel commander

Colonel Jeyam also said that Ramanan's killing was intended to drag the Tigers into a major war, further raising tension on the island.

india Updated: May 25, 2006 13:31 IST

The Tamil people are preparing for war and nobody can defeat them, a top Sri Lankan rebel military commander was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Colonel Jeyam, of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was quoted by the pro-rebel Tamilnet website at a memorial ceremony for another senior rebel commander who was gunned down on the weekend.

The Tamil Tigers blamed government forces for the killing of Colonel Ramanan, deputy commander for eastern Batticaloa district.

Government military officials denied security forces were involved and said they suspected a breakaway rebel faction might have been responsible.

The rebels have said Ramanan's killing was intended to drag the Tigers into "major war", further raising tension on the island where mounting violence is undermining a four-year-old ceasefire.

"I can see the people of Tamil Eelam getting ready for the war. We know where we should stand -- on the power of our people's support, the guidance of our leader, on the sacrifices we have made for freedom in our own territory," said Jeyam, identified as a top LTTE commander.

"Nobody can defeat us now when the Tamil people have resolved to decide our own destiny," he said, adding, "our enemies are wrong in assuming that they can weaken us."

The Tigers are fighting for a homeland for minority Tamils in a conflict that has cost more than 60,000 lives since 1972.

First Published: May 25, 2006 13:31 IST