Top Tamil Tiger leader shot dead in Sri Lanka

May 22, 2006 (AFP) – A top Tamil Tiger field commander was shot dead in eastern Sri Lanka Sunday by an unidentified gunman, rebel and military sources said. The number two in the Tamil Tiger military wing and its chief intelligence operative in the eastern region — identified as Ramanan — was gunned down in the rebel-held area of Vavunathivu, rebel sources said.

They said Ramanan held the rank of a colonel in the guerrilla movement and had been sent to the restive eastern province to head its intelligence work following a split in the group in March 2004.

Government military officials said they suspected that the breakaway faction led by V. Muralitharan, better known as Colonel Karuna, may have been behind the shooting.

Ramanan is one of the highest ranking Tamil Tiger operatives to be killed since the group entered into a truce with government forces in February 2002. Scandinavian truce monitors have said the ceasefire exists now only on paper following an upsurge of violence since September that has claimed over 500 lives.