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Brigadier Balraj Reserved hero

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Published on May 19, 2011

Brig. Balraj, one the LTTE commanders most feared by the Sri Lankan military, had always preferred to lead his troops from the front.

LTTE fighters who served with him say he preferred to direct his battles from amidst the exploding shells and flying bullets of the frontline -- a few hundred metres from the enemy positions - rather than the confines of a command-centre.

He had been seriously wounded many times in his two decades of service, the healing often compounded by his diabetes.

Brig. Balraj had twice commanded the LTTE's crack Charles Anthony Regiment. He was its first commander for two years from when the unit, designed for conventional warfighting, was established in 1991 and had led it again for another two years from 1995.

Brig. Balraj came to particular public prominence for his command of a daring operation in 2000 in which he led 1,200 LTTE fighters into the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) -held Jaffna peninsula to capture and hold a section of the key A9 highway linking the SLA base complex at Elephant Pass with the Jaffna rearbase areas.

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