Nov 2, 2007 (AFP) – The political head of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels who was killed in an air strike on Friday was the guerrillas’ public face for scores of visiting dignitaries and media personnel. “It is always wrong to place us on a par with international terrorist acts that bring harm to innocent civilians or targets that are not military,” he said during an interview with AFP last May.
S. P. Thamilselvan, 40, known as the “Smiling Tiger” operated out of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) political capital of Kilinochchi in the island’s north.
Nursing a war wound, he walked with a stick and was also the group’s chief peace negotiator.
He died with five colleagues during a Sri Lankan air force bombardment of Kilinochchi on Friday morning.
Born in the northern town of Chavakacheri in the Jaffna peninsula, Thamilselvan joined the LTTE in 1984 and was later sent to India for military training, according to the pro-rebel Puthinam.com website.
He was once on the personal staff of elusive LTTE leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran and was also an active combatant who lead attacks against Sri Lankan troops.
Thamilselvan was wounded in 1993 while leading an offensive on an