- civil war - Sri Lanka - Tamil Tigers
AFP - The president of Sri Lanka declared Saturday that the island's separatist Tamil Tiger rebels have been "defeated militarily" after decades of bitter ethnic bloodshed.
"I am proud to announce... that my government, with the total commitment of our armed Forces, has in an unprecedented humanitarian operation finally defeated the LTTE militarily," he said in a speech in Jordan.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have been fighting for an independent homeland on the ethnic Sinhalese-majority island since the 1970's.
"I will be going back to a country that has been totally freed from the barbaric acts of the LTTE," he said, adding that government troops had rescued some 210,000 civilians who were "being used as human shields by the LTTE."
Defence officials reported that sporadic fighting was still in progress in a coastal area in the northeast, but only with pockets of die-hard rebel fighters.
The defence ministry said earlier that the remaining Tigers were preparing to commit "mass suicide" after troops captured a stretch of beach and sealed off all possible escape routes.
It said their "only way out is to surrender to the security forces or to be crushed in the military advance." It said it also believed the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was still holed up in the area.
There was no immediate word from the rebels.