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Sri Lanka ends war, kills Tamil leader

SRI Lanka declared yesterday it had crushed the final resistance of the Tamil Tigers, killing chief Velupillai Prabhakaran and ending his three decade quest for an independent homeland for minority Tamils.

Rupavahini television, the state broadcaster, interrupted its regular programming yesterday afternoon to announce Prabhakaran'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 that Prabhakaran was killed along with his top deputies.

Prabhakaran's death or capture was crucial in bringing closure to the war. If he had escaped, he could have used his large international network and the support of Tamil expatriates to spark a new round of guerrilla warfare.

Sri Lanka's army chief, Lieutenant General Sareth Fonseka, told television his troops routed the last of the Tamil Tigers from the northern war zone yesterday morning and were working to identify Prabhakaran's body from among the dead. "We can announce very responsibly that we have liberated the whole country from terrorism," he said.

Senior military officials said Prabhakaran was surrounded early yesterday with the last of his fighters.

He and his top deputies drove in an armor-plated van accompanied by a bus filled with armed personnel toward approaching Sri Lankan forces, sparking a two-hour firefight, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Troops eventually fired a rocket at the van, ending the battle, the officials said. Troops then pulled Prabhakaran's body from the van and identified it as that of the leader, they said.

In addition to Prabhakaran, the attack also killed Soosai, the head of the Tigers' naval wing, and Pottu Amman, the group's intelligence commander, the officials said.

One of Prabhakaran's sons was also killed, according to the military.


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