The renegade regional military wing leader, Karuna has described his arch rival Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran "'a mad dictator and traitor"'.

Karuna, whose brother Reggie was gunned down by the Liberation tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) a week ago, confirmed his brother's death for the first time and said that he died "fighting against the dictatorship of Prabhakaran, against the oppression of Prabhakaran".

In an interview with a Tamil radio station broadcasting from London he claimed that he was still living in Sri Lanka and said that he did not want his loyalists to get frustrated after his brother was killed.

Karuna's group is being considered a strong threat to the Tigers prompting them to take a series of precautions against Karuna's group in Batticaloa district.

"We were forced to fight against the dictatorship and fascism of Prabhakaran. So we have to fight with vigour and strength," Karuna said. indicating that his group was not backing off following his brother's death.

"I ask our people to come together and fight the evil forces of Prabhakaran. I ask the Tamil youths to join together and put a stop to the murders and heinous crimes committed by him," he said.

"I am sure Prabhakaran cannot get anything positive for our people because he is only concerned about his legacy. He declared himself as the great leader, the 'national leader' and wants to crown himself as the greatest leader ever. How can a mad person who had killed thousands of his own people be the national leader?" Karuna asked.

Karuna, a one time loyalist of Prabhakaran who was part of the delegation that represented the group at the peace talks, was sacked from the guerrilla group in March this year after he openly challenged the leadership claiming that cadres from the eastern province were ill-treated.

He said Prabhakaran had killed several political leaders and intellectuals and questioned how he could be identified as a leader of the Tamils.