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Jan 19, 2009 at 03:25pm IST

LTTE chief's bunker busted: Lankan Army

Colombo: The Sri Lankan Army claims to have busted a bunker where Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) chief Velupillai Prabhakaran was supposed to be hiding.

Pictures released by the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry show an elaborately built underground bunker that Prabhakaran reportedly used for hiding.

The bunker was built inside a civilian settlement, among the houses of poor villagers and its entrance at the surface was disguised as one of the huts.

There was an armour plated container with air conditioning facility placed near the surface entrance of the bunker.

Earlier, Sri Lankan Army chief Sarath Fonseka had said that they believe Prabhakaran may have fled the country and that it is unlikely he'll take refuge in India.

"Well, I am not sure whether he (LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran) is in Sri Lanka. There are ways to escape," Fonseka said in Colombo on Sunday evening.

"It would be extremely tough for the 1000-odd LTTE cadres to take on Sri Lankan army of 50,000 personnel, deployed in areas around Mullaittivu," Fonseka said.

Fonseka claimed that Prabhakaran could not take refuge in India where he is wanted in murder case of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. He had earlier insisted that the 54-year-old guerrilla leader was hiding in Mullaittivu town.

He added that Prabhakarn could not escape to United States of America and United Kingdon as he is a declared terrorist according to those nations.

Fonseka also added that only 1,000 of the trained LTTE fighters are now present in the jungles of Mullaitivu district.

His comments came as troops killed 31 more rebel combatants in latest fighting, pushing further into the shrinking rebel-held territories in the north.

Advancing troops also seized a sophisticated boat manufacturing unit and a highly-fortified rebel camp in the Maruthampuvel area, the military said.

The 54-year-old Prabhakaran is a school dropout and formed the LTTE in 1972. He pioneered the use of suicide bombers, and he is responsible the assasination of for Rajiv Gandhi.

He is also responsible for the 1993 killing of Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa.

His guerrilla group operates a mini air force which have carried out numerous bombings. The LTTE is also listed by the European Union and United States as a terrorist organisation.