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