The leader of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger separatist rebels has vowed to continue fighting even as the Sri Lankan government threatens to capture the rebels' capital.

Rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran made his annual speech Thursday as part of the Heroes' Day observances, which commemorate rebels and civilians killed in the civil war.

Prabhakaran's radio speech was broadcast on the Internet, minutes after government jets blew up a rebel radio station.

The Sri Lankan military is aiming to strike a major blow against the rebels by capturing their political capital Kilinochchi.  The military has been steadily advancing on the rebel stronghold for months, and says it expects to capture it soon.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting since 1983 to create an independent state in Sri Lanka's north and east.  More than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict. 

There are also reports of violence in the eastern part of the country.  The military says a Hindu priest was shot and killed early today by unidentified gunmen in Batticaloa district.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.