Sri Lanka says civil war over, rebel leader killed

Following three bloody decades of civil war, Sri Lanka faces the daunting task of trying to reconcile and rebuild after its troops routed the last Tamil Tiger separatist rebels Monday and killed their feared leader, AP reported.

One of the world's most sophisticated insurgencies, the Tamil Tigers and their leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, were brought down by a string of fatal misjudgments and an unrelenting government onslaught aimed at crushing the rebellion at all costs.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who plans to officially declare victory Tuesday in a speech to parliament, has promised a power sharing deal with the Tamil minority. But the end of the war, which killed more than 70,000 people and displaced 265,000 others, could complicate efforts to forge a lasting peace.

The destruction of the rebels' conventional forces does not mean the threat is over. Insurgents hiding in the jungles of the east have emerged periodically to attack government forces and civilians, and the rebels had sleeper cells planted in Colombo and other towns.

The Tamil Tigers also retain a vast international smuggling network and the financial support of some of the 800,000 Tamil expatriates. At least one top rebel leader, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, the reputed smuggling mastermind, remains at large.

"Now (there) is a historic opportunity, and hopefully things will change. But the demonstrable record so far is not particularly encouraging," said Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, a political analyst and executive director of the Colombo-based Center for Policy Alternatives.

While Velupillai Prabhakaran (Ve-LU-pi-lay PRAH-bah-ka-ran) was a hero to some, his group was branded a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union. It was accused of waging hundreds of suicide attacks, including the 1991 assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and forcibly recruiting child soldiers.

In recent months, government forces ousted the rebels from their stronghold in the north and cornered the retreating fighters in a tiny strip along the northeast coast.

On Monday morning, the troops closed in, the military said.

Prabhakaran and his deputies drove an armor-plated van accompanied by a bus filled with rebel fighters toward the tightening cordon, sparking a two-hour firefight, two military officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Troops eventually fired a rocket at the van, ending the battle, and pulled out Prabhakaran's body as well as those of Soosai, his naval commander, and Pottu Amman, his feared intelligence chief, the officials said. Prabhakaran's son, Charles Anthony, was also killed, along with 250 rebel fighters, the military said.

State television broke into its regular programming to announce Prabhakaran's death, and Rajapaksa confirmed the news in a phone call to India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Indian foreign affairs spokesman Vishnu Prakash said.

"We can announce very responsibly that we have liberated the whole country from terrorism," army chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka said.

Fonseka and the commanders of the other security forces formally informed Rajapaksa in a televised ceremony Monday evening. They were then promptly promoted.

The chubby Prabhakaran turned what was little more than a street gang in the late 1970s into one of the world's most feared insurgencies, fighting for an independence for minority Tamils after years of marginalization at the hands of the Sinhalese majority.

He demanded unwavering loyalty, gave his followers vials of cyanide to bite in case of capture, and created a suicide squad known as the Black Tigers.

Full-fledged war broke out in 1983 after the rebels killed 13 soldiers in an ambush, sparking anti-Tamil riots that human rights groups say killed as many as 2,000 people.

At the height of his power, Prabhakaran controlled a virtual country in the north that had its own border control, police force, tax system and law school. He commanded a rebel army of thousands backed by artillery, a navy and a nascent air force.

Prabhakaran was renowned as a master strategist, but made a series of fatal miscalculations that eventually proved his downfall. The assassination of Gandhi alienated his supporters in India, where millions of Tamils live. His stubborn line during negotiations convinced the government it could never reach a peace deal, and a Tamil boycott he enforced in the 2005 election ensured victory for the hard-line Rajapaksa, who later vowed to destroy the rebels.

The Tamil Tigers were also badly weakened when their top commander in the east defected along with thousands of fighters.

The divergent reactions to the rebel defeat highlighted the challenge Sri Lankan faces in healing its scars. State TV played Sinhalese nationalist songs and many Sinhalese poured into the streets in celebration.

On the beaches surrounding the southern port city of Galle, overjoyed Sri Lankans ignited chains of firecrackers. Groups of motorbike riders raced through the city streets, waving flags. As night fell on the nearby beach town of Unawatuna, a group of 30 children paraded near the beach, banging homemade drums and singing.

"We are happy today to see the end of that ruthless terrorist organization and its heartless leader. We can live in peace after this," said Lal Hettige, 47, a Sinhalese businessman.

But Tamils feared the government would not be magnanimous in victory.

"The general triumphalist mood is only an indication that Tamils may never get their due place," said S. Prasanna, a sales representative.

Many other Tamils refused to speak on the record after what they said was years of police raids, harassment, arbitrary detentions and even abductions.

"I believe the arrests and detentions will only increase from now on," a 34-year-old Tamil businessman said. "The government will be suspicious with everybody, thinking the Tigers may have come out and mingled with the civilians."

Though Rajapaksa promised political compromise, the defeat of the rebels leaves a vacuum in the Tamil leadership.

Prabhakaran killed many community leaders seen as a challenge to his authority. Others moved abroad, while many of those who remained active in politics either allied themselves with the government or were linked to the rebels and effectively sidelined.

The bloody end to the war could also complicate peace efforts.

Diplomats had appealed for a humanitarian truce to safeguard civilians trapped in the war zone, but the government refused.

The battle killed at least 7,000 Tamil civilians and wounded 16,000 between January and May 7, according to the United Nations. Health officials said more than 1,000 others were killed in heavy shelling in the last week of fighting.

EU foreign ministers called Monday for an independent war crimes investigation into the deaths, declaring: "Those accountable must be brought to justice."

International programmatic ecosystem Admixer continues to develop on Georgian market
International programmatic ecosystem Admixer continues to develop on Georgian market
Turkmenistan working to digitalize consular service
Turkmenistan working to digitalize consular service
US-based IT Company EPAM  announces 14 vacancies in Georgia
US-based IT Company EPAM announces 14 vacancies in Georgia
Loading Bars
Latest
Iraq reports 1,997 new COVID-19 cases, 472,630 in total
Moscow's coronavirus death toll exceeds 6,800
39 dead in Izmir as magnitude 6.6 quake shakes Turkey’s west coast
Information on shelling of Armenia is complete lie, another provocation - Azerbaijani MoD
Share of Turkish cars on Israeli market down
Georgian Dream wins principal elections for the third time
CEC: 56.11% voter turnout by 20:00
Austria orders curfew, restaurant closures to fight COVID surge
It’s battle between us and Armenia, and everybody should stay away from that - President of Azerbaijan
Nagorno Karabakh is not a matter of resources, it is a matter of justice, national pride and international law - President of Azerbaijan
I’ve been asking question where has Armenia the money from to do this war for month, no answer - President Aliyev
Only way to stop war is for Armenia to stop - President Ilham Aliyev
President Aliyev on journalist's statement on Turkish soldies: You saw them in Baku, you didn’t see them in battle
Volume of transshipment of goods from Turkmenistan through ports of Turkey revealed
President Aliyev in answer to journalist's question on democracy: We look how in Europe you beat protesters
The fact that three times we agreed for ceasefire demonstrates our will to resolve this issue by political means - President of Azerbaijan
We were the subject of ethnic cleansing. We didn’t do any ethnic cleansing against Armenians - President Aliyev
We liberate territories not with bombs, we liberate territories with our fighters which take one village, one city after another - President Aliyev
We are restoring justice and implementing UN Security Council resolutions which were on paper for 27 years - President Aliyev
UK confirmed COVID-19 cases surge past one million mark
We changed realities. Now Armenia will have to take it into account - President of Azerbaijan
Polling process for the parliamentary elections ended
So far, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International was very aggressive against Azerbaijan - President Aliyev
The more we defend the more territories we liberate - President Ilham Aliyev
Our response was harsh, but Armenia deserved it - President Ilham Aliyev
WHO to transfer to Kyrgyzstan another humanitarian cargo for combating COVID-19
Iran says ready to send rescue teams to Turkey’s quake-hit area
Armenia's attempts to involve third parties in Karabakh conflict will remain unsuccessful - MFA
Armenia fired 218 missile strikes on settlements of Azerbaijan far from conflict zone to date
Armenian sabotage-reconnaissance group, military vehicles neutralized (VIDEO)
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale November 1
Georgian CEC discloses voter turnout by 17 p.m.
Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office gives updates on civil casualties, damages as of Oct. 31
Volume of cargo transshipped from Azerbaijan through ports of Turkey revealed
2 killed in Iraqi military plane crash
Armenia shows disrespect for efforts of international mediators - Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry
Azerbaijani army does not use prohibited weapons - Defense Ministry
Azerbaijani army fully complies with all international norms - Ministry of Defense
Iran reveals its COVID-19 data for October 31
Uzbekistan’s 9M2020 carpet export down
Georgian CEC reveals voter turnout by 15 p.m.
Weekly review of Azerbaijan's precious metals market
Iran increases value of exports via Kerman Province
Armenia's attacks on civilians should be perceived as war crimes against humanity - Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry
Armenia shells Azerbaijani Tartar, Agdjabadi despite OSCE MG calls to respect ceasefire - MFA
17 religious monuments damaged as result of Armenian aggression, including churches
Azerbaijani president's aide says Armenia shelled civilian districts even during Geneva meetings
Azerbaijani army destroys military equipment, manpower of Armenian Armed Forces (VIDEO)
Armenian Armed Forces continue shelling Azerbaijani settlements - Defense Ministry
Azerbaijan confirms 547 more COVID-19 recoveries
President Ilham Aliyev expresses condolences to President Erdogan
Azerbaijan only restoring its territorial integrity, top official says
UzAuto Motors eyes expanding financing opportunities by issuing Eurobonds
Iran implements new limitations to prevent COVID-19
Georian CEC introduces media with the information about voter turnout for 12:00
Armenia deliberately burns down forests in Shusha - Azerbaijani president's aide
Tehran city council calls for extending lockdown
Uzbekistan int’l consulting organizations to transform large state-owned enterprises
Iran to inject new foreign currency package
VTB Bank (Azerbaijan) completes 9 months with profit
Military conflict in Karabakh drives Armenia to dead end - Russian edition
President Ilham Aliyev expresses condolences to Berna Yilmaz
Drilling operations in Iran's South Pars gas field to begin soon
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Russia warns Armenia about ban on import of tomatoes
Azerbaijani oil prices down
Russia responds to Pashinyan's appeal
Inflation coming down in Georgia - Finance Minister
Voting process at Georgian polling stations ongoing in peaceful environment - CEC
Kazakhstan’s KazTransOil opens tender for equipment repair services
Azerbaijani association talks importance of OSAGO insurance in country
Iran’s NICICO boosts its production
More people rescued from rubble in Turkish Izmir
Captured Armenian cleric admits his forced involvement in Karabakh clashes (VIDEO)
Azerbaijani president's aide voices his concern over tortures against elderly woman in Armenia
Azerbaijani 'A Audit and Consulting' LLC talks about slowdown in audit services' dev't
Armenia delivering phosphorus cargo to Khojavend creating basis for further provocations - MoD
Long term loans value surges in Kazakhstan year-on-year
Uzbekneftegaz announces tender for turboexpander unit supply
Voting in parliamentary elections in Georgia continues normally - Arzu Nagiyev (PHOTO)
Iran and Russia reach to agreement on construction of thermal power plant
Azerbaijani FM forwards his condolences to Turkish people due to Izmir earthquake
Ukraine reports record daily high new coronavirus cases
Uzbek oil and gas production dep’t announces tender for feasibility studies
Loan portfolio of Azerbaijan AFB Bank grows
Elections proceeding peacefully, no serious violations so far in Georgia - Interior Ministry
President Ilham Aliyev interviewed by German ARD TV channel (PHOTO)
Uzbek-Korean Uz-Kor Gas Chemical to buy radiant tubes via tender
Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Innovative Development to buy light vehicles via tender
South Korean companies invited to enter Turkmen market more actively
Azerbaijani FM, ICRC Director General meet to discuss current situation in Karabakh
Armenia's barbaric crimes tantamount to actions of fascists - Mikhail Zabelin (PHOTO)
Reports about shelling of Shusha by Azerbaijani army - another lie, MoD says
Azerbaijan's largest loans share falls on household sector
Azerbaijan's PM meets Pakistani ambassador
Armenian reports on missile attack on Khankendi by Azerbaijani army - lie, says MoD
Azerbaijan develops website to fight spread of Armenian fake news
Presence of PKK terrorists in ranks of Armenian Armed Forces - fact, says aide to Azerbaijani president
Iran reveals value of fishery products exported from Gilan Province
Turkmen MFA opens tender for supply of technical equipment
All news