November 10th, 2007
by D.B.S. Jeyaraj
?Sinhala nation did not open its heart and send a peace message. On the contrary, it is sending war-vultures that are dropping giant bombs. It has cruelly killed our peace dove?.
The above sentences are excerpted from Velupillai Prabakharan`s statement released after Thamilchelvan`s death. The LTTE leader`s statement was unusually emotional and had an agitated tone to it.
Suppiah Paramu Thamilchelvan, the 40 year old politucal division head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was killed in an air raid along with five other tiger cadres on Friday November 2nd.
Two jet bombers ,an Israeli K-fir and a Russian built MiG - 27 , engaged in aerial bombardment at first light between 5.55-6. 00 am. The target area was suburban Thiruvaiyaaru about three km from Kilinochchi town in the Wanni region controlled by the tigers.
The others killed along with Thamilchelvan in the Thiruvaiyaaru bombing were Muthukkumaru Soundarakrishnan alias Lt Col Anpumani , Dharmarajah Vijayakumar alias Major Mikunthan, Karunanidhi Vasanthakumar alias Capt. Kalaiyarasan, Panchatcharam Sajeeban alias Lt Aatchivel, and Muthukkumaarakkurukkal Srigayathrinatha Sarma alias Lt Maavaikumaran.
Sivalingam Aathavan alias Major Selvam was critically injured in the bombing. Selvam passed away on November 9th and was buried with full military honours at Kanakapuram great heroes cemetery along with the others. He was from Kandaavalai in the Kilinochchi district.
Anpumani also known as Alex , Mikuthan , . Kalaiyarasan aka Nethaji, Selvam were from the political wing. , Aatchivel and Maavaikumaran were Thamilchelvan`s bodyguards.
Anpumani or Alex is a skilled photographer and known to many media persons. He is in charge of the strategic communications unit of the LTTE`s political wing. He also served as Thamilchelvan`s personal assistant.Closely associated with Thamilchelvan Anpumani has accompanied the political commissar on trips to Europe.
Mikunthan a sklled writer in Tamil was the propaganda secretary of the LTTE poliical division.Kalaiarasan was the administrator of the LTTE`s political secretariat. Selvam was co-ordinating secretary of the political division.
Thamilchelvan fuctioning from 1994 as the LTTE?s political commissar had been assigned additional quasi - military duties recently . He was placed in charge of defences at Pooneryn as he was familiar with the area.
Thamilchelvan had been at Pooneryn for three days at a stretch from Oct 29th to Nov 1st. He returned to Kilinochchi town on November 1st afternoon.
Kilinochchi is the place where the LTTE`s political headquarters, Peace secretariat and strategic commuications unit are located.
Thamilchelvan`s last official duties were at the communications unit from where he contacted several persons in Sri Lanka and abroad. Some well - wishers brought specially cooked food including mutton curry.
The political commissar and others stayed late into the night at the place , partaking of food and engaging in conversation.
Thereafter at about 2. 30 am the six tigers moved to a safe bunker located in the interior of Thiruvaiaaru. Given the prevailing security situation important tiger leaders sleep at night in well - fortified bunkers away from their homes.
They also avoid sleeping at the same place on successive nights.
The L shaped bunker was well camouflaged. It had a lower and and upper compartments. Thamilchelvan went to bed in the lower one while the others slept in the upper one.
In the early hours of the morning around 4 - 4,30 am an IAI ?Scout? unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spy plane had hovered over the skies of Kilinochchi. Later the two jet bombers came at first light and discharged their lethal cargo.
Subsequently three other planes (2 MiG s and 1 K-fir) also dropped nine bombs from 6. 20 am to 6. 30 am in the South of Kilinochchi in the area around the 155th milepost and St. Anthony`s church.Two civilians were killed and six injured.
The first aerial mission had been bulls - eye on target when a bomb fell on the entrance of the bunker. There was a massive explosion and the entire structure collapsed and caved in. Six tigers were killed in their sleep.The seventh died days later of injuries.
Among top tiger leaders to reach the spot early were Intelligence chief Pottu Amman and Pappa head of the LTTE sports division. The destruction was so immense that a bulldozer was brought first to facilitate excavation. Thereafter the bodies were dug up manually.
Most LTTE bunkers are strong and designed to withstand aerial bombardment. What troubles the LTTE now is the thought that a giant bomb has knocked out Thamilchelvan`s bunker. A similiar bomb could hit Prabakharan`s or Pottu Amman`s bunker too.
What is the bomb which Prabakharan refers to as ?Ratchathakkundu? or giant bomb.?
According to some reports in the LTTE media it was an American general purpose bomb called Mark 84 or MK 84.The largest of the Mark - 80 series of weapons, it is nicknamed ?Hammer? for its considerable power.
The Mark 84 has a nominal weight of 2,000 lb (908 kg), but its actual weight varies depending on its fin, fuse, and retardation configuration, from 1,972 lb (896 kg) to 2,083 (947 kg).
It has a streamlined steel casing filled with 945 lb (429 kg) of Tritonal high explosive. The Mark 84 is capable of forming a crater 50 ft (15.2 m) wide and 36 ft (11 m) deep. It can penetrate up to 15 in (380 mm) of metal or 11 ft (3.3 m) of concrete, depending on the height from which it is dropped, and causes lethal fragmentation to a radius of 400 yards (366 m).This free-fall general purpose bomb`s Length is 10 ft 9 in (3.3 m) Diameter is 18 in (457 mm)
The extensive destruction caused to Thamilchelvan`s fortified bunker suggests that an extremely powerful bomv was used. Only one bomb fell on the bunker. It was a direct hit. The bomb could very well have been a MARK - 84.
Whatever the merits or otherwise of the giant bomb and the credentials of the so called peace dove , a ?conflict? is visible in the manner both sides are treating the incident.There are contradictions too.
The Government boasts on the one hand of carefully selecting the target and destroying it. If this is true Colombo is prone to charges of deliberately killing the LTTE`s political commissaar. This affects Government credibility internationally.
The LTTE on the other hand whips up sympathy among Tamils by accusing the Govt of deliberately killing Thamilchelvan. This however demoralises supporters and cadres because the LTTE leadership is perceived as vulnerable.
Despite the propaganda it appears that Thamilchelvan was not an ?intentional ? victim . He and his comrades happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The ?Child? Soldiers at the Funeral
Some media reports are waxing eloquent about child soldiers being visible in LTTE pictures of Thamilchelvan`s funeral. They point to a small girl and an even smaller boy in LTTE military fatigues as proof. Unfortunately these eagle - eyes crying ?gotcha? are in for a disappointment.
The girl in uniform is Thamilchelvan`s eight year old daughter Alaimagal. The boy is the four year old son Oliventhan. Even Thamilchelvan`s wife Sasirekha alias Isaichelvi was in LTTE uniform at the funeral.
The Return of ?Col? Paduman
An interesting feature of Thamilchelvan`s funeral was the turn - out of almost all the senior LTTE commanders. Disregarding concerns about safety most of them attended the funeral and participated in the procession, Pottu, Soosai,Bhanu. Balraj, Sornam. Theepan, Jeyam, etc were all there.
The surprise was ?Colonel? Paduman the former Trincomalee Commander who fell out of favour with big boss.Paduman like Karuna was asked to come to the Wanni aboard a SLAF helicopter in March 2004.. While Karuna smelt a rat and refused, the trusting Paduman obeyed. He was placed under house arrest after a stage - managed press conference.
Paduman went off the radar and Sornam became Trinco commander. Rumours spread that Paduman was no more. Now Paduman is back in full uniform and was seen mingling on par with those of ?Col? rank. It appears that Paduman who was aide de camp to Prabakharan for many years has done his penance and is now rehabilitated.