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'Prabhakaran can't face the army, he will flee Lanka'

T V Sriram in Colombo | January 14, 2009 15:34 IST

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Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran would never face the Sri Lankan security forces closing in on his last stronghold of Mullaitivu and would flee the country, a senior minister has said.

"Our troops are on the verge of wiping out the LTTE [Images] and most of its leaders are now trying to either surrender or flee the country," Transport Minister Dallas Alahapperuma said.

But the minister said, "Doors were still open," for the LTTE to bring the conflict to an end by surrendering.

"Prabhakaran has no courage to face our soldiers. He might try to flee. Yet, some elements are attempting to breathe new life into the terrorists who are now on their last legs," the minister said.

Alahapperuma claimed that the country would be able to celebrate a historic Independence Day in 2009, implying that by that time the security forces were expected to overrun all tiger bases.

He said, "Mullaitivu will also fall into the hands of the government soon."

"While hailing the role played the security forces, we should also commend the contributions made by media personnel," the minister told a gathering on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka [Images] has put its Navy on alert to prevent any possible attempt by the LTTE leader to leave the island through sea route, according to officials.

The naval blockade has been imposed in northern Mullaittivu, the only remaining stronghold of the LTTE after the fall of Kilinochchi, their de facto capital, and the strategic Elephant Pass.

Earlier this month, Sri Lankan army chief Sarath Fonseka said 54-year-old Prabhakaran may be hiding in the coastal town of Mullaittivu. Top commanders believe that he may now be confined in an area of 30 km radius in the embattled north, holed up in a bunker.

Navy spokesman Commander D K P Dassanayake had said that they had laid a security net around the coast off Mullaitivu.

"We have our fast attack craft, speed boats, radars and other equipment keeping round-the-clock watch," he told the state-run Independent Television Network. 

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