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Conflicting accounts of S.Lanka Tiger chief death

[AFP, Sunday, 24 May 2009 10:46 No Comment]

Conflicting accounts emerged on Sunday of when and where Sri Lankan rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed, after a report of his death was published in a state-run newspaper.

The military had previously announced Prabhakaran, 54, was shot on Monday when trying to escape the final battle in a small convoy of vehicles that included a van and an ambulance.

But the Observer, which usually reflects the government’s official position, said the account involving the ambulance had been picked up by soldiers listening in to Tiger radio communications.

The newspaper said troops actually found Prabhakaran’s pistol and belt on Monday, and only the next day discovered his body lying in a mangrove.

It said the Tigers may have tried to trick the army into believing that Prabhakaran had been killed trying to escape in an ambulance in an effort to divert their attention.

The Sri Lankan authorities have not published a post mortem examination report or officially confirmed how or when he died.

A government spokesman said Tuesday the body would be given to an undertaker but army chief General Sarath Fonseka told the privately-run Sunday Rivira that the body had been cremated and his ashes thrown in the sea.

Fonseka, who led troops in their victory over the rebels, said Tiger intelligence chief Pottu Amman and Prabhakaran’s wife, Mathiwadini, were among the dead but had not yet been officially identified.

The government released footage of Prabhakaran’s body for the first time on Tuesday after a pro-rebel website said he had not been killed.

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