Sri Lanka rebel leader trapped by troops: PM

May 5, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s Tamil rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran is trapped in a small strip of coastline that has been surrounded by government soldiers, the prime minister said Tuesday. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake told parliament that Prabhakaran, 54, was still leading his Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighters in their desperate battle for survival against an overwhelming military offensive.

“We have information that Prabhakaran is still in a four-square kilometre (1.5 square mile) area in Mullaittivu,” Wickremanayake said.

He added that the guerrillas were fighting back against government troops with a large arsenal of weapons that they had stockpiled.

Prabhakaran has not been seen for more than 18 months, and speculation has been rife that he may have been killed or already fled the island.

Sri Lanka’s navy has increased patrols off the Mullaittivu coast to stop him escaping, and Malaysia and India have been alerted to be on the lookout.

With victory apparently imminent, President Mahinda Rajapakse has said he wants the Tiger leader — one of the world’s most notorious rebel fighters — to be taken alive.

Government soldiers trying to end Prabhak