ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Sri Lanka s Arming of LTTE against IPKF-Mystery of Kobbekaduwa s Death

Mystery of Kobbekaduwa's Death M R Narayan Swamy ON August 8,1992, Major-General Deznil Kobbekaduwa, one of Sri Lanka's most popular army officers, and nine other members of the armed forces were killed when their jeep was blown up by a powerful bomb at Kayts island off Jaffna. One officer was seriously injured. Since 1.991, Kobbekaduwa was overall commander of north and east of Sri Lanka and chief co-ordinating officer with headquarters at Anuradhapura town, He was to take over in Colombo as chief-of-staff in January 1993, Kobbekaduwa (promoted posthumously as Lt General) was then planning a grand military encirclement of LTTE-controlled Jaffna peninsula to eventually wrest it. Although the island where he died was not under LTTE control (the Tigers controlled the mainland), it was first believed thanks mainly to president Ranasinghe Premadasa who propagated the view publicly that Kobbekaduwa's Land Rover was devastated by a LTTE pressure mine. Doubts, however, persisted, mainly because of the known differences between Premadasa and Kobbekaduwa, who, some said, was politically ambitious and was president- material himself. Rumours spread that Kobbekaduwa was probably done to death by "insiders" acting on Premadasa's orders. For a while, the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP), a former Tamil militant group led by Douglas Devananda and which enjoyed Premadasa' s backing, was suspected. Premadasa ordered an inquiry by a former judge of the Supreme Court, which concluded that a LTTE pressure mine long buried in the area had indeed claimed the 10 lives. This was also the conclusion of another inquiry commission of three foreign judges appointed by the government after Premadasa' s assassination in May 1993. But rumours of Premadasa' s complicity persisted.

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