WASHINGTON, April 7, 2008 (AFP) – The Tamil Tigers, a Sri Lankan rebel group responsible of killing about 4,000 people in the past two years, have quietly established a US presence to help finance their separatist campaigns, The Washington Times reported Monday. Citing various US government sources, the newspaper said the organization was trying to acquire millions of dollars worth of anti-aircraft weapons, automatic rifles, grenade launchers, ammunition, explosives and other military equipment.
A suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber assassinated Sri Lanka’s highways minister as he opened a marathon Sunday in an attack that killed 13 other people and wounded 100, police and officials said.
Senior minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, 55, was killed in the town of Weliveriya outside the capital Colombo.
The defence ministry said 22 more rebels the separatist group known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had been killed in fresh fighting over the weekend, raising to 2,653 the number of rebels said to have been killed by security forces this year.
The LTTE have been fighting for autonomy for ethnic minority Tamils in the Sinhalese-majority island’s north and east since 1972, a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.