Sri Lanka says Tamil Tiger leader is dead

The military says it killed Velupillai Prabhakaran, top deputies, and his son, a day after the rebel movement admitted defeat.

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The Sri Lankan military announced Monday that Velupillai Prabhakaran, the founder and leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), is dead.

A state television broadcast quoting military sources stated that Mr. Prabhakaran had been shot and killed along with two of his deputies in the Mullivaikal district while fleeing the war zone in an ambulance. The announcement followed the news that the military had surrounded Prabhakaran in a 100-meter square patch of jungle in the northeast of the country.

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According to the Sri Lankan media, Prabhakaran’s son and several other leaders of the Tamil Tiger movement have also been killed. The claims have not been independently verified as reporters are barred from entering the war zone and the LTTE has yet to confirm the death of its leader. Meanwhile, there are conflicting accounts of how Prabhakaran was killed.

His death comes a day after the LTTE admitted defeat and declared on its website that it would lay down arms in the 26-year-long war against Sri Lanka’s military.

According to the BBC, the military has confirmed Prabhakaran’s death, although his body has yet to be identified from among the many Tamil Tigers who were killed on Sunday night.

Charles Anthony, Prabhakaran’s son and the heir of the LTTE leadership, has also been killed, reports the Daily News, Sri Lanka’s national newspaper.

The Daily News also reports that several top LTTE leaders were also killed overnight. Balasingham Nadesan, a former police constable and the head of the rebels’ political wing, Seevaratnam Pulidevan, the head of the Tigers’ defunct peace secretariat, and S. Ramesh, a “senior special military leader,” are said to be among the dead.

According to The Times of London, it is impossible to independently verify the Sri Lankan military’s claims about Prabhakaran’s death.

Conflicting accounts of the exact manner in which Prabhakaran was killed are also circulating, reports Al Jazeera on its English-language website.

According to The Guardian, Prabhakaran had previously instructed his bodyguards “to kill him and burn his body beyond recognition rather than allow his capture.” An explosion in a bunker on Sunday “prompted speculation that Prabhakaran and other senior commanders may have killed themselves” since Tamil Tigers are trained to commit suicide rather than be captured.

Before Prabhakaran’s death was reported, the Colombo High Court had issued a warrant for his arrest, reported The Lanka Sun, an independent online newspaper.

According to Bloomberg, Prabhakaran is accused of directing the killing of more than a hundred politicians and military officers.

Even though the LTTE’s leadership has reportedly been wiped out, analysts believe that the movement may retain popular support, reported the Belfast Telegraph, before news of Prabhakaran’s death was reported.

• Editor's note: A previous version of this story did not identify which material was quoted from other news sources.

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