Prabhakaran killed, confirms Lanka army

Test This picture released by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in August 1994 shows the group's supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran

COLOMBO: Tamil Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran was today shot dead by Sri Lankan special forces as he tried to stage a dramatic breakout from the army encirclement, a military spokesman said. Prabhakaran and his top aides came out of their last hiding place in a small convoy of van and an ambulance and tried to drive out of the war zone, but were gunned down, he said.
However, the army is withholding an official announcement till a DNA test of the bodies are conducted. The Tiger chief was killed with two others, who are yet to be identified but believed to be his closest associates LTTE intelligence chief Pottu Amman and Sea Tigers' chief Soosoi.
The deaths of the top LTTE leaders came a day after Tamil Tigers conceded defeat saying the decades-old battle has reached its "bitter end" and they have decided to "silence" their guns.
Earlier in the morning, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara had said that Prabhakarn was still alive but completely encircled by advancing Sri Lankan forces in a tiny jungle area north of Vellamullivaikkal after most of the LTTE's top leaders were found killed.
The army said that its special forces had encircled Prabhakaran, Pottu Aman and Soosoi who were boxed into a 100m x 100m area. The killing of Prabhakaran came as officials confirmed that more than 220 frontline rebel cadres, including his elder son Charles Anthony, LTTE political head Balasingham Nadesan and LTTE peace Secretariat chief S Pulidevan had been killed in fierce battles in the last 12 hours.
The other top LTTE leaders slain include Black Tigers' chief Ramesh, Tigers' police wing chief Ilango and senior leaders Sundaram and Kapil Amman. The body of 24-year-old Anthony, chief of LTTE's air wing, was found during mopping up operations in the last rebel-held territory in the no-fire zone this morning, the defence ministry said.
Nadesan, a former constable of Sri Lankan police, was heading the political wing of the Tamil Tigers. S Pulidevan was the head of "LTTE peace secretariat" while S Ramesh was the chief of Black Tigers. According to the defence sources, the body of Anthony was found after an unsuccessful attempt by the Tamil Tigers to evacuate their leader's son early this morning. Anthony was known to be the head of Information and Technology department of the LTTE.
After being cornered, LTTE yesterday said it had no other option but to silence its guns. "We remain with one last choice -- to remove the last weak excuse of the enemy for killing our people. We have decided to silence our guns," LTTE's chief of international relations Selvarasa Pathmanathan said. "This battle has reached its bitter end," Pathmanathan said, adding that "our only regrets are for the lives lost and that we could not hold out for longer." The rebels' statement followed President Mahinda Rajapaksa's declaration on Friday in Jordan that the LTTE has been defeated militarily. "My government with the total commitment of our Armed Forces, has in an unprecedented humanitarian operation, finally defeated the LTTE militarily," Rajapaksa had said. The over three-decades old conflict for a separate Tamil state waged by LTTE has left more than 70,000 dead in pitched battles, suicide attacks, bomb strikes and assassinations.