The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tigers kill 8 from Karuna faction in dawn raid

Colombo, July 25 (Reuters): Eight people were shot dead at a Tamil Tiger safe house near the Sri Lankan capital today in an attack blamed on the months-old split in the senior ranks of the rebel leadership.

The Tamilnet website ( said those killed were supporters of renegade Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) commander Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, known as “Karuna”, and included one of his deputies. “The killings are confirmed, but we can’t say who is dead and who is responsible,” a police official said.

Tamilnet said the assailants were believed to be gunmen from the main faction of the LTTE.

It also said a Sri Lankan military intelligence official was also among the dead, but police denied this. “The directorate of military intelligence of the army headquarters categorically denies the army’s involvement in the above incident and the Sri Lanka army further assures that no intelligence operative is among the dead,” the police said in a brief statement.

The police official said the killings took place at a residence believed to be a Tamil rebel safe house in Kottawa, an outer suburb of Colombo.

Residents said they heard bangs a few hours before dawn today, but thought it was fireworks set to stop monkeys from raiding orchards.

They said the house — a plush double-storey building set in a rubber plantation and surrounded by a two metre brick wall — had been rented about two weeks ago by a man believed to be a key Karuna associate.

Police and army investigators today swarmed the house looking for clues. In the driveway, police experts dusted a Japanese saloon car for fingerprints as a bomb squad team checked the premises for booby traps.

Karuna, one of the most senior Tamil commanders, split from the LTTE earlier this year, prompting a crisis in the group, which has been fighting for decades in a war that has claimed over 64,000 lives.

The LTTE is run with an iron fist by its senior commanders, under chief V. Prabhakaran, and analysts say scores will be settled for months to come as a result of Karuna’s split.

Although the LTTE has regained control of the eastern areas formerly commanded by Karuna, the group accuses the government of supporting him in order to drive a wedge through their ranks.

A team of Norwegian negotiators, led by deputy foreign minister Vida Helgesen, arrived in the Sri Lankan capital today afternoon in the latest attempt to re-start the stalled peace process.

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