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Troops recover Prabakaran’s body

PROCLAIMED DEAD: This photograph released by the Sri Lankan military on Tuesday shows the body of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam leader Velupillai Prabakaran.

PROCLAIMED DEAD: This photograph released by the Sri Lankan military on Tuesday shows the body of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam leader Velupillai Prabakaran.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: AFP

B. Muralidhar Reddy

Nation freed from terrorism: Rajapaksa

FROM INSIDE THE WAR ZONE: Ending all suspense and speculation, the Sri Lankan government on Tuesday afternoon announced that troops engaged in combing operations in the 500-metre stretch along the Mullaithivu coast, where the Tamil Tigers were pitted in the last standoff against the military, have recovered the bodies of LTTE chief Velupillai Prabakaran and Sea Tiger head Soosai.

The announcement came after the troops found the bullet-ridden body of Prabakaran on the bank of the Nanthikadal lagoon and after it was identified by Vignayagamurthi Muralitharan (‘Col.’ Karuna), Minister in the Mahinda Rajapaksa government and former Tiger commander who broke ranks with the LTTE in 2004, and by Daya Master, LTTE Media Coordinator who surrendered to the military along with thousands of fleeing civilians on April 21.

Two hours before the announcement, the Sri Lankan President, in an address to Parliament, said the island nation had been freed from the clutches of separatist terrorism and the need of the hour was to ensure full rights to the Tamils in the country, with a home grown solution acceptable to all. He made no reference to the LTTE chief.

“At this victorious moment, it is necessary for us to state with great responsibility that we do not accept a military solution as the final solution …the responsibility that we accept after freeing the Tamil people from the LTTE is a responsibility that no government in the history of Sri Lanka has accepted.

“It is necessary that we give these [Tamil] people the freedoms that are the right of people in all other parts of the country. Similarly, it is necessary that the political solutions they need should be brought closer to them faster than any country or government in the world would bring. However, it cannot be an imported solution. It is necessary that we find a solution that is our very own. It should be a solution acceptable to all sections of the people,” he told Parliament.

As news of death of Prabakaran broke and state television Rupavahini began flashing images of the body of the LTTE chief, people across the island nation came out on the streets to celebrate.

This correspondent, returning from the war zone from Anuradhapura, witnessed people bursting crackers and distributing sweets.

The news was greeted with joy and relief, coming as it did hours after LTTE International Relations Head K. Pathmanathan was quoted on the pro-Tiger TamilNet as saying that Prabakaran “is alive and well.”

“… The Sri Lankan government may have declared a military victory. But it does not realise that it is a hollow victory,” he said.

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