COLOMBO (Reuters) - The son and heir apparent to Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran has been wounded in a gunbattle with soldiers trying to crush the separatist rebels, the military said Wednesday.
The battle to end the quarter-century war is centred around 25 square km (10 sq miles) of the Indian ocean island’s northeastern coast, where the army has encircled the Tigers and tens of thousands of civilians trapped there.
“Intelligence sources confirmed that LTTE leader Prabhakaran’s elder son, Charles Anthony, was injured in fighting,” military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said. He had no details of the extent of the injuries or his condition.
There was no independent confirmation available and the Tigers could not be reached for comment.
Nanayakkara also said troops killed at least 19 guerrillas Tuesday.
The Tigers Tuesday accused the international community and the United Nations of maintaining a double standard by saying the rebels should comply with humanitarian law, while ignoring what it says are attacks on civilians by the Sri Lankan military.
The United Nations, rights groups and other nations have said the Tigers are holding people prisoner as human shields, and shooting those who try to leave. They also have said the government has shelled areas packed with civilians.
Both sides deny the allegations.
The United Nations, United States and Britain have all urged both sides to observe a “humanitarian pause” to let people trapped in the war zone escape.
The Tigers, who are on U.S., EU, Indian and Canadian terrorism lists, on Tueaday accused the international community of not doing enough to push a cease-fire.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa Tuesday again rejected the call as a Tiger ruse to buy time to re-arm, and said the war would go on until the Tigers surrendered or were destroyed.
The Tigers since 1983 have been waging a civil war to create a separate nation for Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority, which complains of mistreatment at the hands of successive governments led by the Sinhalese majority since independence from Britain in 1948.
Editing by Bryson Hull and Sugita Katyal