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LTTE chief Prabhakaran shot dead

NEW DELHI, 18 May 2009: The elusive Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, who fought a quarter-century secessionist war with the Sri Lankan government, has been shot dead by the Sri Lankan army.

According to military sources in Colombo, Prabakharan and his intelligence chief, Pottu Amman, were killed last night while they were escaping in a jeep and ambulance convoy in the northern war zone.

Earlier today, Sri Lanka’S Defence Ministry claimed Prabhakaran’s son Charles Anthony, 24, was killed in the battle. 

Since the 1970s, the LTTE, led by the 54-year-old Prabhakaran had been fighting for an independent homeland for the Tamil population in the Sinhala-majority island. 

An estimated 80,000 people lost their lives in the civil war.

After failing three times, the Sri Lankan armed forces launched the fourth edition of the Eelam War in 2006 against the LTTE — described as one of the most ruthless terrorist outfits in the world, which also pioneered the use of human suicide bombers.

The LTTE — which once boasted a 15,000-strong force during its heyday, including an air and naval wing, light aircraft and submarines — failed to withstand the onslaught of nearly 80,000 government troops. 

Most of the LTTE’s fighters have either died or were wounded in the war, and the aging fighters could not match the formidable Sri Lankan army on the ground.  

The LTTE’s northern empire crumbled easily — losing its strategic bases — the administrative capital in Kilinochchi in January this year and finally its last bastion, Mullaithivu, the rebel’s military headquarters. 

Government troops managed to liberate nearly 15,000 sq km of territory once held by LTTE forces and are now in complete control of the northern areas.  

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who rode to power in 2005 by committing to wipe out the LTTE and terrorism from his island state, did not budge to international pressure for a truce despite thousands of Tamil civilians trapped in the war zone. — Bernama

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5 Responses to “LTTE chief Prabhakaran shot dead”

  1. singam says:

    Many times in world history, let it be in Europe or Asia, the warring factions would one way or the other receive aid from some outside quarters based on common heritage like ethnic similarity, common religious persuasion or historical links. Here in the case of the Sri Lankan Tamils, when besieged upon by the Sinhalese army did not receive help from their own motherland India. Sri Lankan Tamils originated from Tamil Nadu, India.

    Historically Sri Lanka was ruled by the Tamils Kingdoms of mainland India. The Chola Empire included most parts of Sri Lanka. Due to the dichotomy of North Indian and South Indian divide in the politics of mainland India, the Tamils of Sri Lanka did not receive sufficient aid from mainland India.

    In India the North Indians predominate the body politics of India, relegating the South Indians to second place. Due to this reason the government of Mr Manmohan Singh took an indiffernt attitude towards the developments in Sri Lanka largely due to ethnic bias. The Indians of India should look at the foreign policy of China which until today regards the Taiwanese Chinese of Taiwan as the citizens of China proper and I am pretty sure that China will deploy its armed forces if the Chinese people of Taiwan or for that matter the bulk of the Chinese community of South East Asia come under the tyranny of any local regime or militia.

  2. DIASPORA says:

    Fighting the globalised Tiger – from a Sinhala point of view:

    These closing climactic weeks of the conventional war have been accompanied by tremendous external pressure on the Sri Lankan state. This has its upside because it illuminates. It reveals to Ceylon the world as it is and how it might be. It tells Ceylon who our friends are. It tells us also who our enemy’s friends are. It educates Sri Lanka as to what it must and must not do, including in the coming weeks and days.

    Here is the rude reality. There is a three-pronged campaign to save the Tiger. One is mounted from within the overseas Tamil community, the dominant pro-Tiger/pro-Tamil Eelam stream having developed into a global movement. The second prong is the West, with some functioning as the spear-point of that prong, while others are less committed. Some Western quarters are clearly protectors and potential patrons of the Tigers and the Tamil Eelam cause. The third prong is located in neighboring Tamil Nadu, with some parties now committing themselves to the cause of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka.

    Luckily, this external pressure comes at a time when it cannot really affect our conduct on the ground; cannot deflect our military action. Such is the resolve of public opinion, the national leadership and the armed forces. 2009 is not 1987. For the moment we can absorb this pressure while spotting and noting where it comes from and extrapolating future trend lines from these pressures and agitations.

    What is the first and most basic lesson that the mounting wave of external pressure should teach us? It is this: we are seeing a number of sources, Western and sub-regional, which would easily afford patronage and succor to the surviving LTTE and the Tamil separatist project. Furthermore it cannot be ruled out that the strength of anti-Sri Lanka /pro-Tamil Eelam elements in Tamil Nadu would have a stronger position in a ruling coalition in Delhi by early June. Therefore, it is imperative that we act decisively within the narrowing window of opportunity open to us, to eliminate the LTTE as a military force, destroying its leadership and hard core cadres who have been trapped in the Zone, after which we must wheel around and hunt down the residual terrorists who may have escaped into the jungles.

    It is precisely because we are relatively weak and our enemy is relatively strong externally, while they are relatively weak and we are relatively strong domestically, that we must maximize that advantage. If we eliminate the LTTE as an army on Sri Lankan soil, we can minimize the effects upon us, of present and future patronage being offered by offshore sources. If on the other hand, we allow the Tigers to survive and escape, they will quickly regroup and be redeployed, with all the external spaces that they have access to. In short the Tigers must cease to function within Sri Lanka, and to cease to function they must cease to exist. The Tiger is a globalized creature but its head is still on Sri Lankan soil. That head must be cut off, now.

    Thus the mounting external pressures on Sri Lanka must not only NOT lead to an easing of the final military campaign, but must result in its exact opposite, the determination to inflict the most complete and decisive defeat and destruction possible on the Tigers, while taking maximum precautions to safeguard the civilians.

    The second lesson is that the Tamil Eelam movement is more globalized than ever; the struggle between Sri Lanka and the Tamil separatist project will continue in the global arena, on an international scale, and that the country’s future in the next stage will be greatly influenced if not decisively determined in the international theatre. This includes the preservation of the military gains on the ground.

    The third lesson is that there must be a shift of national emphasis and priority, to the international front. Just as the country and state matured to the point where it shifted to the correct policy stance on the war, overhauled its military machine and placed the right personnel in the right places, the same or a similar task will have to be undertaken in the domain of Sri Lanka’s external relations.

    The fourth lesson is that we must clearly identify and build up our “natural” international defense lines. These are the Non Aligned Movement and the countries of the global South. Within and outside the developing world, Sri Lanka’s most reliable strategic friendships will have to be with those, mainly but not only Eurasian, who place high value on strong states, state sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, and within this group of states, those which have no significant Tamil populations. The ties with such states must be upgraded and solidified into a structure or system. We should for example, apply for observer status with the Shanghai Organization for Security Cooperation, a structure which includes Russia and China, and focuses on counter-terrorism.

    The fifth lesson is no one, even among our friends, will countenance either an insensitive or slow alleviation of the problems of IDPs and related humanitarian questions or an absence of an immediately postwar political solution based on autonomy and equality, for the Tamil people. (We have until a new administration is sworn in, in New Delhi, to get our act together on both issues, simultaneously not sequentially).

    The sixth lesson is that the Sri Lankan state has to catch up, get with the new calendar and new times, and learn to speak a new language. “Bush-speak” has no acceptance outside the USA even during his administration and now it is rejected within the USA itself and has no resonance anywhere in the world. Sri Lanka’s dominant discourse has to change or it will lose the global struggle by simple default. Macho nationalism, religious majoritarianism, unilateralism and “anything goes in the struggle against terrorism” are out; the attempt to combine ethics and power, (“ethical realism”) is in.

    The seventh lesson is that if we are to compete with and beat the globalized Tamil secessionist project with its western patrons – better exemplified by MIA making TIME’s 100, rather than by Velupillai Prabhakaran the least articulate and most corpulent guerrilla leader in the world – we have to rebuild our soft power and smart power, just as we did our hard power. This requires that we undergo a collective transformation, amounting to a revolution, in education, culture and mentality. If anyone wants to understand shifts in US policy towards Sri Lanka, they must factor in the 80-100 young US educated Tamils working on Capitol Hill as aides, researchers and staffers of Congressmen and Senators, and then contrast that with the output of our educational system as we have debased it.

  3. CW Wong says:

    It was sad that the end could not be reached via peaceful means. I have visited Sri Lanka twice for business and could sense a very strong desire to see an end to the then state of affairs. I was told that people of all ethnicities could live in peace and Colombo was an example. Looking forward, I wish Sri Lankans a time of national reconciliation and that all may move forward as one people and one nation.

  4. live by the gun says:

    Live by the gun, die by the gun too.

  5. sinhalese says:

    Prabhakaran was renowned as a master strategist, but made a series of fatal miscalculations. The assassination of Gandhi alienated his supporters in India, his stubborn line during negotiations eventually convinced the government it could never reach a peace deal and a Tamil boycott he enforced during the 2005 election ensured victory for the hard-line Rajapaksa.


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