HistoryEditThe Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam; (commonly known as the LTTE or the Tamil Tigers) is a organization based in northern Sri Lanka. Founded in May 1976, it has actively waged a violent campaign that seeks to create an independent in the north and east of Sri Lanka. This campaign had evolved into the , one of the longest running armed conflicts in , until the LTTE was militarily defeated by the under the government of in May 2009. Since its inception, and until his death, the LTTE was headed by its founder, Velupillai Prabhakaran . The Tamil Tigers are currently proscribed as a by 32 countries.
The Tamil Tigers claimed to be fighting to protect the country's Tamil minority from discrimination at the hands of the successive majority governments that have ruled the country since independence. They have extensive support amongst the and Tamils.
The Tigers, who during the height of their power possessed a well-developed militia cadre, are notorious for having committed atrocities against civilians, including abductions and targeted attacks, for carrying out various high profile attacks, including the assassinations of several high-ranking Sri Lankan and Indian politicians like , and for recruiting . The LTTE invented the and pioneered the use of as a tactic. They also pioneered the use of women in suicide attacks, and have also used aircraft in some attacks.
Over the course of the conflict, the Tamil Tigers frequently exchanged control of territory in north-east Sri Lanka with the , engaging in fierce confrontations in the process. They were also involved in peace talks to end the conflict four times, each time unsuccessfully, and at the start of the last round of peace talks in 2002, they had a large area under their control. However, after the breakdown of the peace process in 2006, the Sri Lankan military launched a major offensive against the Tamil Tigers, bringing a vast area under their control and limiting the Tigers to a 1.5 km area in the . This area had previously been designated as a civilian safety zone in which fighters were not supposed to be.
As a result of this offensive, the Sri Lankan government defeated the LTTE militarily. Amid growing calls for the LTTE to surrender, President declared military victory over the Tigers on May 16, 2009 after 26 years of conflict and the rebel leader Prabhakaran was reported to have been killed by Government forces. The LTTE finally admitted defeat on May 17, 2009, with the rebels' chief of international relations, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, stating on the website that "This battle has reached its bitter end ... We have decided to silence our guns. Our only regrets are for the lives lost and that we could not hold out for longer".
Death of Velupillai PrabhakaranEdit
On May 18th, 2009, The Sri Lankan Army announced that it had killed the leader of the LTTE, Velupillai Prabhakaran. State Television broadcasted pictures of his body, though no independent source has confirmed it.
On May 17th, 2009, The LTTE announced that they would lay down their arms, ending the 23 year long Civil War in Sri Lanka.