Rajapaksa visits former LTTE hub Kilinochchi (Lead)

Colombo, April 16 (Inditop) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Thursday paid a surprise visit to Kilinochchi, the former political hub of the Tamil Tigers, officials here said.

Government troops captured Kilinochchi, 350 km north of Colombo, at the start of January, ending a decade of control of the northern region by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The LTTE is now left with just 14 sq km of coastal strip in Mullaitivu district.

“The president visited Kilinochchi and addressed the troops there. He was accompanied by the defence secretary, the service commanders and several officials,” military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told IANS.

President Rajapaksa is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

The LTTE had over the past one decade used the town as its administrative and political capital. It was at the heart of an independent Tamil Eelam state the Tigers wanted to set up.

Kilinochchi boasted of LTTE sponsored banks and judicial services, all of which were portrayed as symbols of a separate state.

The town also played host to meetings between LTTE leaders and diplomats following the Norway-brokered 2002 ceasefire agreement.