Tamil Tigers building up capacity for arms shipments: analysts

LONDON, November 18, 2008 (AFP) – The Tamil Tigers are likely building up their capacity for receiving weapons shipments with two long airstrips to receive large cargo planes, respected defence analysis group Jane’s said Tuesday.

Based on analysis of high-resolution, commercially-available satellite imagery, the London-based group said the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had constructed two one-kilometre (0.6-mile) paved runways between 2002 and 2007.

Jane’s said that one of those runways was being extended to two kilometres.

“While the imagery does not confirm the airstrips are in use, the investment of significant resources suggests the LTTE has developed facilities that can serve air logistics needs at a critical time in its three-decade war with the Sri Lankan state,” said Christian LeMiere, editor of Jane’s Intelligence Review.

“Jane’s can also confirm that the LTTE has made at least one attempt to arrange for a consignment of artillery rounds to be flown in.”

The defence group said the shipment remained stranded in an unidentified Central Asian country because Russia had intervenened to prevent its delivery.

It said, however, that there was no evidence of the airstrip being used t