July 13, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s president ordered protection for a Tiger rebel official undergoing medical treatment in Colombo despite severely strained relations between the two sides, a senior minister said Thursday. Media Minister Anura Yapa said President Mahinda Rajapakse had agreed to provide escorts to the Tamil Tiger media coordinator after he was brought for urgent heart surgery to the Indian-managed Apollo hospital in Colombo.
“Whatever the relations, given the nature of the request and on humanitarian grounds the president had no hesitation in agreeing,” Yapa told reporters.
Velayudam Dayanidi, better known as Daya Master, was admitted to the hospital early Thursday after spending six hours travelling from the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi, 330 kilometers (206 miles) north of the capital.
Police and troops were seen deployed outside the hospital.
The rebels had special permission from the government to cross a de facto front line and make the lengthy journey after the government turned down a request for a helicopter ride, official sources said.
More than 60,000 people have been killed in the separatist insurgency launched by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 1972.