Sri Lanka braced for retaliation as Tigers honour slain chief

Nov 3, 2007 (AFP) – The elusive leader of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels on Saturday paid his respects to his slain deputy and five others who died in a government air raid, as security was stepped up across the island. Velupillai Prabhakaran honoured S.P. Thamilselvan, head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s (LTTE) political wing, at an undisclosed location inside rebel-held territory, a rebel spokesman said.

“Our national leader paid his respects to Mr. Thamilselvan, and he will be making a statement very soon on this incident,” Rasiah Ilanthiriyan told AFP by satellite telephone from the rebel-held north.

The Tiger rebels were Saturday holding funerals for five other of their senior members killed in Friday’s air strike near the rebel capital Kilinochchi, the rebels said.

“The other bodies are in an advanced state of decomposition and we are arranging to have those funerals today,” Ilanthiriyan said earlier.

Thamilsevan’s funeral is scheduled for Monday, he said.

The rest of the island was meanwhile on a heightened state of alert over fears of revenge attacks against military or civilian targets in government-held areas.

Traffic along the main highway linking the capital and the