Tigers confirm loss of their last bastion in the East.
Colombo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Sri Lanka’s army has captured the last Tamil rebel base in the east of the country. The confirmation arrived today from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who has announced that they will now pass to “guerrilla” mode in the region.
“Military commandos have reached the Thoppigala base – army sources revealed yesterday in Colombo – with this victory the army has taken a Tamil terrorist nerve centre”. Today rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiriyan told the BBC that the militants had abandoned Thoppigala (which they had controlled for over 13 years) and that those who remained “had gone into guerrilla mode”.
The North and East of the country have been a theatre of war between the LTTE and government forces, in the rebels fight for independence from Colombo. Now the army is promising to “focus itself” on the North, where the rebels hold is even stronger.
The island's president, Mahinda Rajapakse, paid tribute to troops for the advance, which coincided with a fresh effort by peace broker Norway to pull Colombo and the ethnic Tamil rebels out of a worsening spiral of violence. The LTTE had previously said they will not resume discussions unless government forces halt their military campaign. Fighting across Sri Lanka has worsened since the breakdown of a 2002 truce around 19 months ago. Sri Lanka's 35-year-old conflict has claimed more than 60,000 lives, and over 5,000 people have been killed in fighting in the past 19 months.