The Sri Lankan government has captured the headquarters of Tamil Tiger
rebels in the north of the country dealing a huge blow to their
separatist struggle to establish a Tamil homeland. Shortly after the
announcement was made a suspected suicide bomber killed at least two
people in the capital Colombo, and injured at least 30 others, in a
sign the rebels are continuing their violent campaign.
The triumphant announcement
that the rebel base in Kilinochchi has fallen to the army was made by
Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse in a televised nationwide
President Rajapakse called it a spectacular victory for the armed forces, and called on the rebels to surrender.
Across Colombo, people lit firecrackers, danced in the streets and waved Sri Lankan flags.
army secured the town - considered the main bastion of the rebels -
after heavy fighting with the Tamil Tigers who had vowed to defend
their political capital.
Kilinochchi has been serving as the
political and administrative headquarters of the Tamil Tigers, and they
have established courts, police stations and a bank in the town.
government spokesman for defense, Keheliya Rambukwella, told VOA,
wresting Kilinochchi from the rebels is a big step forward in the
military campaign to defeat the Tamil Tigers.
administration and infrastructure will be dismantled to great extent,"
he said. "Which means it is a huge setback and there will be very
little left for them to activate their terror activities."
suicide bombing within hours of the capture of Killinochchi indicated
that the rebels retain the ability to strike back and are in no mood to
Officials say a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle
detonated a powerful explosion near the air force headquarters in the
heart of Colombo during the afternoon rush hour. Several airmen and
civilians were killed or injured in the blast.
are a trademark of the rebels, and have carried out numerous such
attacks during their 25-year-long campaign to carve out a separate
state for the nation's ethnic Tamil minority.
Until a year
ago, the rebels controlled huge swathes of territory in the north, but
they have steadily lost ground since the military began its campaign to
evict them from their northern bases. In 2007, the rebels had been
forced out of their eastern bases.
Minister Rambukwella is
optimistic that the Tamil Tigers, having lost the east and faced with
heavy reverses in the north, will no longer be a major threat.
is total disarray within the organization. International support has
receded," he said. "They know that this is not a battle that they could
ever, ever win. It would be lunacy for them to again think they could
get what they want through the barrel of the gun."
Tamil Tigers have said earlier they will fight on even if Killinochchi
falls. Analysts warn that the Tamil Tigers, known as some of the
fiercest guerrilla fighters in the world, have regrouped after
suffering huge reverses in the past.