The Airforce is likely to be called regularly to fly key LTTE cadres within the northern and eastern provinces due to Monday?s ambush, on the Polonnaruwa-Batticaloa overland main supply route, that claimed the lives of five cadres, including Ampara-Batticaloa political wing leader E. Kaushalyan, posthumously promoted to the rank of ?Lieutenant Colonel.?
`There is going to be a sharp increase in their requests,` a military official said, adding, `We are in a dilemma. They accuse us of facilitating attacks on them and then they ask us for escorts.`
The Airforce had flown eight LTTE heavyweights including their political wing leader S. P. Thamilchelvan to the east on Wednesday. Some of them had been flown to Sampoor, Trincomalee while the rest, including Thamilchelvan and Ampara-Batticaloa Special Commander Bhanu, had reached Karadiyanaru in the LTTE-held area where they paid their last respects to Kaushalyan.
Trincomalee ?military commander? Sornam and two others had been flown to Sampoor on Thursday.
The military said that Thamilchelvan and other Kilinochchi based Tigers had to be flown back from Karadiyanaru. The military acknowledged that the LTTE was going to take advantage of the situation. `We shouldn?t be forced to deploy helicopters according to their whims and fancies,` an authoritative official said. He ridiculed TNA politicians for what he termed as unsubstantiated claims of a clandestine link between the military and Karuna faction. `Have they ever blamed Karuna and his loyalists? If they really believe we are conniving with Karuna would they depend on us to transport Soosai, Thamilchelvan, Bhanu, Sornam, Nagesh, Balraj and Balasingham over a period of time,` he asked.
Meanwhile on an LTTE request, the army had escorted 36 LTTE cadres including Ramesh, Karikalan and Nadesan in charge of the so called thamileelam police to attend Kaushalyan?s funeral at Thandiyadi. Thambirajah Ramesh had returned to the east for the first time after the LTTE replaced him with Bhanu as the Ampara-Batticaloa Special Commander, a post once held by estranged Tiger commander Karuna.
Karikalan had fallen from grace much earlier.
Speculation is rife that Ramesh had facilitated Karuna fleeing Batticaloa in the company of former UNP MP Ali Zaheer Moulana after losing the Good Friday battle on the banks of the Verugal river