Emergency heart surgery for Sri Lanka rebel spokesman

July 12, 2006 (AFP) – A Tamil Tiger rebel spokesman suffered a heart attack and was being rushed to a hospital in the Sri Lankan capital Wednesday for urgent treatment, a government minister told AFP. Velayudam Dayanidi, better known as Daya Master, was being brought to Colombo from the northern rebel-held town of Kilinochchi to undergo heart surgery, Policy Planning Minister keheliya Rambukwella said.

“President Mahinda Rajapakse provided military escorts to bring Daya Master to Colombo for medical treatment purely on humanitarian considerations,” Rambukwella said.

More than 60,000 people have been killed in the separatist insurgency launched by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 1972.

In 2002 they signed a ceasefire with the government but the truce has been breached by almost daily tit-for-tat attacks in the past six months. At least 830 people have died in the violence since December, according to official figures.