Tigers on defensive as Sri Lanka military closes in

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September 19, 2008 (AFP) – Tamil Tigers were once regarded one of the world’s most ruthlessly efficient rebels, but they risk losing their mini-state as Sri Lankan forces make a determined push after decades of bloodshed.

After months of bitter fighting, security forces have reached the outskirts of the Tiger political capital — Kilinochchi — the six-kilometre (four-mile) long township along the main A-9 highway to the Jaffna peninsula.

Aid workers who evacuated Kilinochchi this week — in line with a government order to leave ahead of an expected military show down — said bombs and artillery shells were landing just within the political offices of the Tigers.

“The military advance is getting closer to Kilinochchi and the Tigers may simply melt away,” an aid official who declined to be named said soon after leaving the north.

Sri Lanka’s top brass had said they want to take Kilinochchi before the end of the year, but defence analysts argue that it must be done sooner as monsoon rains could intensify and render heavy armour ineffective from about October.

For the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Kilinochchi is the show piece town where they hosted visiting foreign dignitaries and peace br