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Tigers: Prabhakaran's body found: Lanka army chief

Contributed by Anonymous on Tuesday, May 19 @ 09:15:14 CDT

International: Politics19 May 2009,  AP
COLOMBO: Sri Lankan troops recovered the body of slain rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran on Tuesday, a day after he was killed in the Tamil
A journalist looks at footage on a television screen showing the body of LTTE leader Prabhakaran. (Reuters Photo)
More Pictures
Tigers' last stand against government forces in the north, the military said.

The government had announced Prabhakaran's killing on Monday, but later said they had not yet found his body. A rebel official abroad denied Prabhakaran was killed and said he was in a safe place.

As speculation grew about Prabhakaran's fate, army chief Gen. Sarath Fonseka announced that his body had been recovered.

"A few hours ago, the body of terrorist leader Prabhakaran, who ruined this country, was found in the battleground," he told state television. "I take responsibility for this statement."

Fonseka's announcement came hours after President Mahinda Rajapaksa delivered a victory address to parliament, declaring that his country had been "liberated" from terrorism after defeating the Tamil Tiger rebels on the battlefield.

Recounting how the rebels, known formally as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, once controlled a wide swath of the north and much of the east, Rajapaksa said that for the first time in 30 years, the country was unified under its elected government.

"We have liberated the whole country from LTTE terrorism," he said, declaring on Wednesday a national holiday to celebrate the armed forces.

The rebels, listed as terrorists by the US and European Union, had been fighting for three decades for a homeland for the mainly Hindu Tamil minority after decades of marginalization at the hands of governments dominated by the mainly Buddhist Sinhalese majority.

Briefly addressing parliament in the Tamil language, Rajapaksa said the war was not waged against the Tamil people.

"Our intention was to save the Tamil people from the cruel grip of the LTTE. We all must now live as equals in this free country," he said.

Rajapaksa has said in the past that he would negotiate some form of power-sharing with the Tamil community following the war and he alluded Tuesday to the need for an agreement.

"We must find a homegrown solution to this conflict. That solution should be acceptable to all the communities," he said. "That solution, which would be based on the philosophy of Buddhism, will be an example to the whole world."


Tigers extinct, now what lies ahead for Tamils in Lanka?
19 May 2009, 0134 hrs IST, K Venkataramanan, TNN

The demise of the LTTE and the end of Velupillai Prabhakaran marks an apocalyptic moment in the Tamil
minority's quest for equality and dignity
File photo of Prabhakaran and his kids at an undisclosed location. (AFP Photo)
More Pictures
in Sri Lanka. ( Watch )

Depending on whether the Sinhala majority reacts to its military victory with magnanimity or triumphalism, Tamils may grow hopeful of a political solution to the decades-old ethnic conflict or feel physically vulnerable and politically marginalised.

The immediate concern is not the fear of ethnic violence or unrest of the sort that shook the region in 1983, but the approach of the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. "I fear Rajapaksa may be keen to broaden his Sinhala support base rather than providing a constitutional solution," says V Suryanarayan, South Asia expert.

Blog: No tears for Prabhakaran

The meeting came as state television and defence officials announced that Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and the entire rebel leadership had been killed on Monday by government troops.

Sri Lanka's state television station announced on Monday that Tamil Tiger rebel chief Velupillai Prabhakaran has been killed, and the army commander said the last pockets of rebel resistance have been cleared from the north.

Prabhakaran's death would spell the end of a more than three-decade quest by the rebel leader for a separate state for minority Tamils across northern and eastern Sri Lanka.

Rupavahini television, the state broadcaster, broke into its regular programming Monday afternoon to announce Prabakharan's death. They gave no details of how he was killed.

The government information department also sent a text message to cell phones across the country announcing Prabhakaran was killed along with his top deputies, who were known as Soosai and Pottu Amman.

Sri Lanka's army chief, Lt. Gen. Sareth Fonseka, told television his troops routed the last rebels from the northern war zone Monday morning and were working to identify Prabhakaran's body from among the dead.

Blog: Memories of Jaffna

He noted that despite the election of a Tamil-led regime in the Eastern Province, there was no headway in devolving powers to it. He said any solution that the government might come up with would just be one put together by "the victor over the vanquished".

A key obstacle in the post-conflict scenario is the absence of a strong, credible figure or political alliance to represent the Tamils. Without the cooperation of the moderate Tamil section, it would be difficult for the Sri Lankan government to regain the confidence of the Tamil people.

The only hope is that moderates, liberals and intellectuals among Tamils may regain the voice that has been stifled for years because of the LTTE's intolerance of dissenting views on one side and violent opposition to federal alternatives from the Sinhala right.

Moderate Sinhalese opinion in Sri Lanka is that India may be in a better position to lean on Colombo to offer a political solution now than when the LTTE factor weighed on the issue. "Now that the LTTE is not part of the equation, India can seek justice for Tamils more vocally," said a Colombo resident.



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