Rajapaksa says Tigers 'defeated'

Rajapaksa says Tigers 'defeated'

Lankan prez declares victory from Jordan; LTTE leaders may commit mass suicide

Rajapaksa says Tigers 'defeated'

Defence officials said the massive offensive against the rebel army was all but complete, with the entire island under government control for the first time in years but for a miniscule pocket of jungle.

They said the remnants of the once formidable rebel force “were preparing for a mass suicide after being effectively cut-off of escape routes, both land and sea” by a morning coastal pincer movement by the army.

“I am proud to announce... that my government, with the total commitment of our armed forces, has in an unprecedented humanitarian operation finally defeated the LTTE militarily,” President Mahinda Rajapakse said in a speech in Jordan.

Rajapakse said he would be returning to “a country that has been totally freed from the barbaric acts of the LTTE.”

Extreme step

With the Sri Lankan forces cutting off all their escape routes, the top Tamil Tigers leadership, including its supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran, may be preparing to commit “mass suicide”, the defence ministry said on Saturday.

The Tigers are “preparing for a mass suicide after forces cut off their sea as well as land escape routes and cornered them in a mere 3.5 sq km area,” a military statement said.
The reports of the LTTE leadership resorting to self destruction came as a government spokesman said that the army was on the brink of capturing all the rebel-held areas.
“Within hours, we expect the news of end of fighting,” state television reporters, who have been allowed to move with the frontline troops, reported.

Sri Lankan forces on Saturday captured the last strip of coastline held by the rebels virtually cutting off any sea escape routes.

Two army divisions advancing on parallel fronts on the island’s northeastern coastline linked up at the village of Vellamullivaikkal, cutting off any sea escape route of the Tigers, military spokesman Brig Udaya Nanayakkara said.

LTTE on civilians

Virtually encircled by the army, the LTTE announced that it would allow all civilians trapped in the area held by them to leave to safety.

A pro-Tamil website quoted LTTE’s new international pointsman S Pathmanathan as saying that in response to a call by US President Barack Obama “the LTTE is ready to do anything that is necessary to save the Tamil people trapped in the unrelenting war that is waged on them.”

“We heed the call by the US president and are prepared to take measures that will spare the life of our people,” the statement said.

The UN estimates that over 50,000 people are still trapped in the war zone. But since Friday, more than 10,000 people have crossed to safety.

The Tigers are now left with just 3.5 sq km of land between the lagoon and Sri Lankan forces facing the sea.

A naval spokesman said Prabhakaran was still leading his now shrinking fighters and wanted to put up a final stand in the last land patch which the rebels still control.

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