Sri Lankan troops won the final battle in one of the world's
most intractable separatist wars, and put the island nation under
government control for the first time since 1983, the military said.
In the climactic final gun battle,
special forces troops killed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran as he tried to flee the war zone in
an ambulance early on Monday, state television reported.
LTTE intelligence chief Pottu Amman
and Soosai, head of the "Sea Tiger" naval wing, were also believed
killed, the report said. Prabhakaran founded the LTTE on a culture
of suicide before surrender, and had sworn he would never be taken
Army commander Lt-Gen. Sarath Fonseka
said troops on Monday morning had finished the task President
Mahinda Rajapaksa gave them three years ago.
"We have liberated the entire country
by completely liberating the north from the terrorists. We have
gained full control of LTTE-held areas," Fonseka announced on state
The end of combat and Prabhakaran's
death sent the currency and stock markets to one-month and
seven-month highs respectively by 0900 GMT. They had already surged
at the opening in anticipation of the war's end.
Rajapaksa declared victory on
Saturday, even as the final battle in Asia's longest modern war was
It played out on a sandy patch of just
300 sq meters (3,230 sq ft) near the Indian Ocean island's
northeastern coast, where the military said the last Tiger fighters
had holed up in bunkers and surrounded themselves with land mines
and booby traps.
But Sru Lanka's triumph was not
without controversy. The European Union will call on Monday for an
independent inquiry into alleged violations of humanitarian and
humans rights law and for those responsible to be brought to
A draft EU text due to be put to a
foreign ministers meeting in Brussels calls for an end to
restrictions on aid agencies, and full access to people displaced by
The LTTE on Sunday conceded defeat in
a 25-year civil war, after a relentless Sri Lankan military
offensive that retook the 15,000 sq km the rebels ran as a separate
state when a 2002 truce began falling apart three years ago.
The official Media Center for National
Security said more than 250 Tigers had been killed in the final
battle, which intensified on Saturday after the military said it had
freed the last of 72,000 civilians trapped in the tiny war zone.
News of the Tiger chief's death came
as state TV for the first time broadcast images of the body of his
son and heir apparent, Charles Anthony, and other dead rebels.
He was killed overnight, the military
said, along with a host of other top LTTE fighters and political
cadres, including political chief B. Nadesan and spokesman
In Colombo, demonstrators threw rocks
at the British High Commission, tossed a burning effigy of Foreign
Secretary David Miliband inside and spray-painted its heavily
fortified wall with epithets and a message: "LTTE headquarters."
Miliband has been critical of the Sri
Lankan government's prosecution of the war, and is seen here as
sympathetic to the vocal pro-LTTE lobby that has protested outside
parliament for weeks in Britain. London has said it backs a war
Sri Lanka has been furious that a
number of its embassies in foreign capitals have been vandalized by
Tamil Tiger backers.
Rajapaksa prorogued parliament on
Monday, the required step for him to take the role of speaker and
address the body. He was due to make his formal declaration of
victory there on Tuesday.
In less than three years, Sri Lanka's
bulked-up military has answered critics who said there was no way to
defeat the LTTE, which had carefully crafted an aura of military
The LTTE at the height of its power
had run a de facto state for Sri Lanka's Tamil minority that it
called Tamil Eelam.
The Tigers collected taxes, ran courts
and kept a standing army, naval wing and small air force, even
though the government paid for health and education services there.