Saturday, May 10, 2008

Armed group releases underage recruits as vital election nears

The Karuna faction, the Tamil Tiger breakaway group, which has been transforming itself from an armed military group into a political party, released 39 underage recruits in April 2008.

The group, officially known as the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pullikal (TMVP), released 28 children on 24 April after 11 were let go on 11 April.

The TMVP was formed by the former eastern military commander of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan, alias Karuna, after he broke away from the Tigers in April 2004. It now controls all nine local governing divisions in its native Batticaloa District in eastern Sri Lanka following a clean sweep in elections on 10 March, and is contesting the Eastern Provincial Council election on 10 May as a coalition partner of the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance.

The TMVP is now led by Karuna’s chief lieutenant Sivasuntharai Chandrakanthan, alias Pillayan, the party’s candidate for the chief minister of the province, who has taken pains to rehabilitate the party's image.

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