Sri Lankan president declares victory over rebels

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

File:Mahinda Rajapakse.jpg

Mahinda Rajapaksa, the president of Sri Lanka
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse declared victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels on Saturday, after a civil war lasting 26 years.

"I will be going back to a country that has been totally freed from the barbaric acts of the LTTE. This freedom comes after 30 long years," Rajapakse said. "My government's precise and well coordinated humanitarian operation has so far succeeded in rescuing over 210,000 civilians who were being used as human shields by the LTTE.

"We have restricted the LTTE to one square kilometre-like area, so we will mop up and seize the rest of the LTTE cadres and the leadership," the president said.

According to defence officials, Sri Lankan military forces have locked down the entire northeastern coast of Mullaithivu, where the Tigers are located, and have surrounded them in a small jungle. A statement by the Sri Lanka Defence Ministry said that the army is bracing for a mass suicide attempt against government forces.

The Tigers have refused to give up to the army. It is believed they are keeping thousands of civilians as shields. Anywhere from 30,000 to 80,000 people are estimated to remain in the war zone.