Tamil Tiger head Prabhakaran may have fled Sri Lanka - army chief
Successive defeats have badly depleted the rebel tamil tigers's military strength and Sri Lankan Army claims that the LTTE only had 1,000 well-trained fighters left. Government troops also claimed that the military offensive against the rebels would end soon as the Tamil Tigers were now "boxed" into a small jungle area in Mullaittivu district.
The north easterm district of Mullaitivu is the last stronghold of the LTTE cadres who withdrew inside its jungles after being ousted from Kilinochchi.
Since the beginning of this month, the security forces have captured major LTTE strongholds including Kilinochchi, Paranthan, Elephant Pass and Muhamalai along the A-9 main highway and have taken full control of the routes after a period of 23 years.
The elusive leader of the Tamil Tigers may have already fled Sri Lanka with the army charging fast toward the separatist rebels' final strongholds, Sri Lanka's army commmander said.
Lieutenant-General Sarath Fonseka, commanding the most successful army offensive in the history of one of Asia's longest-running wars, also predicted victory in a matter of months as the Tigers' resistance was weaker than expected.
"Prabhakaran is a man who loves food, a man who loves his family, so I don't think he would wait until the military got so close to him," Fonseka told reporters late on Saturday. "He must have already escaped through the sea." He declined to speculate on where the Tamil Tiger leader would have fled to.
Fonseka said Tiger founder and leader Velupillai Prabhakaran would neither commit suicide as he exhorts his followers to do with cyanide capsules worn around their necks, nor allow himself to be captured like former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.
Fonseka said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) now hold an area of 30 km (18 miles) by 15 km (9 miles), and said troops had marched 17 km toward Mullaittivu in as many days.
The LTTE could not be reached for comment.
"When the war started, I used 50 map sheets to plan it. Now I only need one sheet to plan it," he said.