Nov 26, 2007 (AFP) – The leader of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers will give his annual policy speech from a jungle hideout this week, with observers predicting a rallying call to arms as the island slides back into all-out war.
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The reclusive Velupillai Prabhakaran will be speaking at the end of a difficult year for his separatist guerrillas, who were ejected from the east in July and lost their political chief in an air raid earlier this month.
The rebels’ fleet of gun-running ships has also been decimated in a string of naval clashes and their fundraising activities abroad severely curtailed, meaning Prabhakaran — who turns 53 on Monday — has little to celebrate.
The last year has seen 950 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighters killed, a massive figure given the modest size of armies involved in the conflict.
The mood in the rebel-held north will also be especially sour at the end of “heroes’ week”, commemorating the deaths of nearly 20,000 Tamil fighters in Asia’s longest-running civil war.
Prabhakaran’s speech to mark this event, due to be broadcast on Tuesday at 6:00 pm local time (1230 GMT), is likely to see a renewed declaration of war and underscore that a Norwegian-brokered peace process i