Sri Lanka Tiger breakaway ‘Karuna’ arrested in Britain

LONDON, Nov 2, 2007 (AFP) – Colonel Karuna, the leader of a breakaway faction of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers rebel group, has been arrested in Britain and is being held in immigration detention, the interior ministry said Friday. A 2002 truce brokered by Norway began to unravel in December 2005, and since then more than 5,400 people have killed and many more displaced as fighting in Asia’s longest-running civil war has progressively escalated.

Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan, better known as Colonel Karuna, was arrested in an operation carried out by Britain’s immigration authority and the London police, the Home Office said.

Karuna, the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)’s former eastern commander, led an unprecedented split from the group in March 2004 and is said to be collaborating with government forces against the main guerrilla outfit.

“Karuna Amman has been arrested following a joint operation between the Border and Immigration Agency and the Metropolitan Police,” the Home Office said in a statement to AFP.

“He is now being held in immigration detention it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

London’s Metropolitan Police and the British high commission (embassy) in Colombo have bot