Sri Lanka reveals evidence of rebel leader's death
President declares formal end to 26-year civil war and calls for unity.
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Later Tuesday, Sri Lankan TV showed footage of a corpse it claimed was Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, a day after the government announced he was dead.
Meanwhile, the Sinhalese majority broke out into celebrations across Sri Lanka, as one of Asia's longest-running civil wars appeared to draw to a close. (See an Associated Press video here, and a map of the military operation from The Nation here.)
But pro-Tamil protesters demonstrated outside Sri Lanka, including in London, where protests turned violent on Tuesday.
The BBC reports that President Mahinda Rajapaksa used his address to Parliament to declare that Sri Lanka had been "liberated," and call for unity between the Sinhalese majority, which makes up 74 percent of the population, and the Tamil minority at 18 percent of the population. (See a video excerpt of speech from the BBC here)
"Today we have been able to liberate the entire country from the clutches of terrorism," he said. "We have been able to defeat one of the most heinous terrorist groups in the world."
As he walked into parliament, schoolgirls sang an ancient song of praise, while lawmakers held up the national flag.
After speaking in his native Sinhala, President Rajapaksa switched to the language of the Tamil minority, saying ethnic and religious divisions should end.
The BBC noted that messages posted on TamilNet, the official Tamil Tigers' website, still insisted that the rebel leader was alive.
But The Times of London reports that the military was confident that the body shown on TV shortly after the president's speech Tuesday was Prabhakaran's.
Prabhakaran was wearing his signature combat fatigues and a dog tag bearing the serial number "001". His head was partially covered by a cloth.... A laminated Tamil Tiger ID card was also on display.
Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, a military spokesman, told
that the body was recovered earlier today and the authorities were "100 per cent positive" that it was Prabhakaran.
Troops found Prabhakaran's bullet-ridden body on the bank of the Nanthikadal lagoon, the Ministry of Defence said on its website.
Bloomberg reports that Sri Lanka stocks shot up to a seven-month high Tuesday, after soaring 6.5 percent on Monday, on news of the military's victory.