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Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Senior Ltte Commander Balraj Dies Of

VZCZCXRO0755
OO RUEHBI RUEHLMC
DE RUEHLM #0495 1431033
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 221033Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8160
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 0909
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 7898
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 6075
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 4407
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 2050
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 4395
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3490
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 8506
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 5955
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO PRIORITY 0661
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 2786
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION PRIORITY

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000495

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM MASS MOPS PTER CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: SENIOR LTTE COMMANDER BALRAJ DIES OF
HEART ATTACK

1. (U) The LTTE announced on Tuesday that Balasegaram
Kandiah, alias Balraj, a senior commander in the LTTE, died
from a heart attack on May 20 in the Tiger-held Vanni. The
43 year old Balraj was one of an estimated 6 senior leaders
directly below LTTE Chief Prabakharan. Balraj's duties
included commanding the front in Manalaaru at the
Mullaitivu-Trincomalee border and in Mannar. He was also
responsible for training Tiger cadres. Balraj was the first
commander of the LTTE's conventional armed forces unit known
as the Charles Antony Brigade which he led from 1991-1993 and
then again from 1995 to 1997. He served as a key commander
in several of the LTTE's major operations including the LTTE
attack on the SLA garrison in Elephant Pass in 2000. All
press reports indicate his death was from a heart attack and
not the result of military action. In 2003, during the
now-abrogated Ceasefire Agreement, Balraj was medevaced
through Colombo to Singapore for heart surgery. In February
2008 he was hospitalized for two weeks.

2. (SBU) COMMENT: The Sinhalese press has characterized
Balraj's death as a "major blow" to the Tigers. Some
speculate that with GSL forces pressing the Tigers on four
fronts the loss of Balraj means the LTTE's remaining senior
leadership will be have to take on additional duties while a
replacement is selected. However, Sri Lankan military
analysts tell us that Balraj's heart condition had precluded
him from taking on active-duty command responsibilities in
recent years. Balraj may have played a more significant role
as a military strategist and advisor to LTTE supremo
Prabhakaran, but the immediate battlefield significance of
his demise has probably been exaggerated by government media
for propaganda purposes.
BLAKE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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