Tamil Tiger chief to make annual speech as fiefdom crumbles

November 25, 2008 (AFP) – The reclusive leader of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers is to deliver his annual policy address this week from a besieged jungle hideout that could soon be totally overrun by government troops. With his northern fiefdom shrinking fast in the face of a massive onslaught, Velupillai Prabhakaran is expected to use Thursday’s address to rally his forces for a do-or-die battle for survival.

The last 18 months have been disastrous for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who want to carve out an ethnic homeland in the north and east of the Sinhalese-majority island.

The rebels were ejected from the east in July 2007 and lost their political chief in a government air raid, while much of their flotilla of ships used to smuggle in black market weapons has been reported sunk.

The LTTE’s political capital of Kilinochchi appears to be on the brink of falling into government hands. The Tigers have lost control of the entire northwest coast, while the key northeastern coastal base of Mullaitivu is also being squeezed.

“He will vow to hit back. He might even say that they are pulling out so that the army will spread out thinly for him to attack them later,” said Dharmalingam Sithadt