The Sri Lankan government has now declared “total victory” over the separatist Tamil Tigers after the killing of their leader.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa had already claimed to have defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam before the final battle in Asia’s longest modern war reached its climactic end. The body of the LTTE commander Vellupillai Prabhakaran was put on display. He died attempting to flee the war zone in an ambulance. The final act played out on a sandy patch of just 300 square metres near the Indian Ocean island’s north-eastern coast, where the military said the last Tiger fighters had holed up in bunkers guarded by land mines and booby traps. Army generals claim to have crushed the last of the Tigers resisting the offensive. In less than three years, the military has destroyed a group, founded on a culture of suicide attacks, which had developed an aura of invincibility. Despite conceding defeat on the battlefield LTTE remnants are now pledging to step up guerrilla attacks on what they describe as “economically viable targets”. The two sides refused to negotiate an end to the war, ignoring calls to protect what the United Nations estimated to be as many as 100,000 people held by the LTTE as human shields. In Brussels demonstrators gathered outside the European Commission building to voice their concern for the fate of the refugees.