Sri Lankan troops on outskirts of Tamil Tiger HQ: army chief

COLOMBO, September 25, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lankan government forces have advanced to the outskirts of the northern Tamil Tiger rebel capital of Kilinochchi, the army chief announced Thursday.

The government, which pulled out of a Norwegian-brokered ceasefire in January, wants to capture the town and deal what would be a major military and psychological blow to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels.

“Our forces are around four kilometres (2.5 miles) from Kilinochchi town. In fact we can see some of the buildings,” Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka said.

He also said the leader of the LTTE, Velupillai Prabhakaran, was “now a caged animal.”

“Our military campaign won’t stop until we liberate our motherland from the LTTE,” Fonseka added.

Kilinochchi, the political capital of the LTTE’s northern mini-state, is where the rebels have hosted visiting foreign dignitaries and peace brokers. They maintain their police headquarters, courts and own bank there.

Fonseka, who was speaking at a book launch in the capital Colombo, did not say when he expected the town to fall. But he suggested a fresh offensive would begin in the coming days.

“We will fire the f