The leader of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers, Vellupillai Prabhakaran, was shot dead by government troops as he tried to escape in an ambulance, according to a senior defence official.
Sri Lanka’s government forces declared final victory over the Tamil Tigers on Monday after a decades-long conflict and announced they now control the whole island.
The Sri Lankan army said its commandos shot dead Vellupillai Prabhakaran, the Tamil Tigers’ supreme leader, as he was attempting to flee in an ambulance with two of his lieutenants - Sea Tiger leader Colonel Soosai and LTTE intelligence chief Pottu
Prabhakaran's son, Charles Anthony, was also killed (in the battle), according to the military, as well as the group's political leader B. Nadesan, the head of the LTTE's defunct Peace Secretariat, S. Pulideevan and leader S. Ramesh.
General Sarath Fonseka, commander of the Sri Lankan ground forces, announced the end of the battles and the Tamil rebels’ defeat.
In a press release he declared: “All military operations have come to a stop when we took control of the last sliver of land,” referring to an area of less than a square kilometre in the northeast of the country.
But the authorities’ official version of the events should be handled with caution, according to FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Colombo, Philippe Levasseur.
“The story picturing Prabhakaran fleeing like a coward is quite convenient for the authorities,” explains Levasseur. “They’ll do everything they can to prevent Prabhakaran from becoming a hero, a martyr of the Tamil cause.”
An 'unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe'
According to Philippe Levasseur, civilians were still fleeing the embattled area on Monday. “The region’s villages were all heavily bombed and both sides accuse each other of killing hundreds of civilians,” he said.
After the separatist Tamil movement’s defeat, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner insisted that humanitarian aid for civilians in the north of the country had to be increased.
The European Union has demanded an international inquiry on human rights violations perpetrated by both sides throughout the conflict.
According to the UN, some 6,500 people have been killed since January. The International Red Cross, the last NGO still present in the field, said “an unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe” had occurred.
The EU on Monday also called for an independent inquiry into alleged human rights violations, saying it was "appalled by the loss of innocent civilian lives as a result of the conflict and by the high numbers of casualties, including children."
Date created : 2009-05-18