'Only a handful left with Karuna'
The rebellion by former eastern commander Karuna from the mainstream LTTE exactly a year ago was a major setback to the rebel organisation, defense analysts say.
Iqbal Athas, defense analyst and a senior journalist of Sunday Times says the LTTE had only 1500 armed cadres before signing the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) with Sri Lanka’s government in February 2002.
“Karuna recruited thousands more cadres after signing the CFA making it a formidable force of nearly 7000”, Athas told BBC Sandeshaya.
Karuna alias Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan broke the ranks with hundreds of cadres under his command from the LTTE on 03 March 2004 saying the eastern cadres were discriminated by the Vanni leadership.
Karuna claimed mainly eastern cadres were used in the combat while cadres from the North were less involved in front line combat.
The Vanni leadership of the LTTE expelled Karuna from the organisation with three days of the rebellion.
In a surprise attack, the Vanni leadership managed to crush the rebellion in April 2004 and Karuna went into hiding.
Since the breakaway, more than 125 killings had taken place in the East, while more than 30 were injured in attacks and counter attacks.
Iqbal Athas said Karuna collected a considerable amount of money before the rebellion.
“He disbanded many young cadres and destroyed weaponry before leaving the Tamil Tigers.”
Athas says it was serious set back for the rebel organisation in many fronts.
“It is very clear that some of Karuna faction members are still attacking the Vanni LTTE cadres.”
Trying to assess the future of Karuna, "Now Karuna is only left with a handful of cadres. He would not be able to mount a considerable challenge against the Vanni leadership. Yet, the LTTE has also failed to resurrect their power base in the East to its former glory in the East." Athas said.