Sri Lanka’s breakaway guerrilla faction hit by in-fighting

COLOMBO, Nov 9, 2007 (AFP) – A pro-government faction of Tamil Tiger defectors has been hit by major political in-fighting following the arrest in London of its leader, known as Colonel Karuna, military officials said Friday. Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan, alias Karuna, was detained by immigration authorities in London last week and since then his followers in Sri Lanka have been battling for control over his faction, the officials said.

Karuna, the former number two in the Tamil Tigers, led a split from the guerrillas in March 2004. Since then he has reportedly been collaborating with government forces to drive the Tigers from the east of the island.

He was arrested and is being held in immigration detention having apparently fled Sri Lanka because of threats to his life from Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran.

“A faction within the Karuna group has been taking over the political offices and the finances which were earlier controlled by Karuna,” a military source in the island’s east said.

“There had been several attacks against Karuna cadres from his rivals.”

The problems in the Karuna faction are a potential issue for the Sri Lankan government, which has used the