3rd Lead (Adds details)

Renegade LTTE Commander flees jungle base

[TamilNet, Monday, 12 April 2004, 10:42 GMT]
Renegade LTTE commander ‘Karuna,' Mr. Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan, has fled his jungle base north west of Batticaloa accompanied by a small number of his closest supporters and bodyguards, Sivagnanam Karikalan, a senior leader of the Liberation Tigers from the east, who is currently visiting Switzerland, told TamilNet. According to unconfirmed reports, Mr. Muraleetharan has sought refuge in a Sri Lankan military camp in the adjacent district of Polonnaruwa. Military sources in Colombo declined to confirm the reports.

"My brother who was in Karuna's custody has been released and has returned home," a jubilant Karikalan told TamilNet further. He added most of the people who were held by Karuna in his custody have been released.

Meanwhile, Kausalyan, who was hurriedly asked to return home from his European visit, is in Batticaloa organizing the Political Unit of the Liberation Tigers back to normality with an urgency to co-ordinate safe return of fighters from Karuna's camp, according to sources from the ground.

The Meenakam camp, the LTTE's military camp that was showcased to western media by Karuna during the early stages of the internal rift, is left abandoned, LTTE sources said.

Sources also said that Tamil Alai, the Batticaloa based daily, is expected to be published from tomorrow.

Residents of Batticaloa district appeared happy and relieved by the unexpected sudden end to Karuna's rebellion and were seen busy preparing to celebrate the Tamil, Sinhala New Year, sources in Batticaloa said.

An AFP report quoting military and rebel sources said that the renegade group has declared an end to their factional war with the rebel group's leadership.

"Over 400 to 500 ... were asked to go home. We were the only ones left after the others fled," the AFP reported quoted a Tiger fighter identified as Arulmoli saying after joining her parents.


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