01/02/2009, 00.00
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Army takes Tiger Tamil headquarters in Kilinochchi

by Melani Manel Perera
President Rajapaksa calls success a victory against world terrorism. LTTE rebels are now holed up in Mullaitivu jungle. In early celebrations in Colombo a suicide attacker kills three and wounds more than 30.
Colombo (AsiaNews) - “A short while ago, our brave and heroic troops have fully captured Kilinochchi that was considered the main bastion of the LTTE. Our troops have completely taken over the fortress of the LTTE that has been described by our own leaders and accepted internationally as the most powerful terrorist organization in the world,” said President Mahinda Rajapaksa as he announced today the fall of Kilinochchi, the Tamil Tiger rebels' de facto capital.

What our heroic troops have achieved is not only the capture of the great fortress of the LTTE, but a major victory in the world's battle against terrorism. The entire world must today appreciate the outstanding success of the Sri Lankan troops,” the President went on to say.

So far the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have not issued any statement. Kilinochchi was their operational centre and the expected capital of their future state. Its loss represents a major blow to Tamil Tigers the .

In thanking the whole population of Sri Lanka the president urged the rebels to abandon their armed struggle.

One must not belittle this victory as one that has been won by one community over another. It should not be interpreted as defeat of the North by the South. This is a victory for our entire nation and country,” Rajapaksa said.

The president pledged to protect the northern population as well as the north’s future generations.

He also urged his fellow Sri Lankans to be patient and remained committed to the struggle until rebel forces, now holed up in Mullaitivu jungle, are completely defeated.

Army Chief Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka explained how the operation against Kilinochchi was carried out, describing the broader offensive the armed forces undertook in the last few weeks. He noted that the fall of Paranthan yesterday was followed by the taking of the strategic hub of Iranamadu which left the path open to the capture of the Tamil Tigers’ stronghold today.

Lieutenant General Fonseka said that about 1,500 rebel fighters were killed in the last two months, but that an estimated 1,700 to 1,900 were still left at large.

These figures have not been independently verified—in fact, both sides have traditionally inflated enemy casualties.

As soon as news about Kilinochchi’s fall became public, celebrations began in earnest around the island nation. However, spontaneous rejoicing for the army’s victory was marred by a suicide attack near an air force base in Colombo.

A man on a motorcycle blew himself up killing two people and injuring 14 airmen and 22 civilians, three of whom are in critical conditions in Colombo’s National Hospital.

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See also
Army foils attack by Tamil Tigers
Military retaliates after suicide bomb kills minister
Government sets up Tamil committee, a trick for the opposition
Army issues ultimatum to Tamil Tigers
Government bans Tamil Tigers