Lanka's President told the nation that a total battlefield victory has
been achieved against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Several
hours after his speech video was broadcast which purported to show the
corpse of the feared leader of the rebel movement.
President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, in a nationally televised address to
Parliament, formally declared an end to the decades long civil war
which had split the island nation.
The president says the
country has been completely liberated from the terrorism of the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and all territory is in government
hands for the first time in 30 years. Wednesday, he declares, will be a
national holiday to celebrate the achievement of the armed forces.
The President made no mention of the fate of the rebel group's founder and leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran.
the speech, the Army commander, in a radio broadcast, said the Tamil
Tiger leader's body had been positively identified. Shortly thereafter,
video was repeatedly aired on television of a corpse which clearly
The LTTE had earlier stated Prabhakaran was alive and well despite the reports he had been killed in a battle with the Army.
decades, the rebel boss has been public enemy number one in Sri Lanka,
which has suffered not only the civil war, but repeated suicide
bombings and political assassinations of both Sinhalese and Tamil
leaders, blamed on the LTTE.
The rebel group fought to
establish an ethnic Tamil homeland on the island. At its peak it ruled
a virtual mini-state in the north and east until the military launched
a successful offensive.
Many in the international community criticized both sides for their treatment of civilians during the war.
United Nations and other international bodies say thousands of
civilians died in the final stages of the conflict, caught in the
cross-fire or were targeted by the combatants. Some are calling for war
In his 40-minute speech the President
declared it was his duty to protect all people of the country,
including the minority Tamils.
Tamil politicians say action will
need to speak louder than words and the attitudes of the Sinhalese
majority must change for there to truly be a new era of peace and
harmony which government leaders proclaim is now beginning.