Lankan troops declare victory over LTTE

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Colombo, Jan 2: Finally, Sri Lankan Troops emerged victorious in the fierce fight between Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Lankan soldiers. "Sri Lankan troops have captured the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels' headquarters town of Kilinochchi after months of fighting," Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse said on Friday, Jan 2.

Troops fought their way into Kilinochchi town, one of the biggest blows for the rebels in years. "We should pay the gratitude of the whole nation to those heroic soldiers who achieved that victory," Rajapakse said in a nationally televised address.

The Sri Lankan troops from Sept had been converging Kilinochchi and had been assaulting Tiger defences encircling the town and both sides.

"Troops are inside the town and they are mopping up things here and there," said a military source who asked not to be identified. State media said the military had surrounded Kilinochchi and that many rebels had fled. Defence analysts said the fall of Kilinochchi would be a bitter blow for the LTTE.

"This is a major defeat for the LTTE. The fall of Kilinochchi means the LTTE will have their only territory in Mullaitivu," said Iqbal Athas, a defence analyst with Jane's Defence, referring to a rebel stronghold in the northeast. "I would not say this is the end of the war, but it may be the beginning of the shrinking of major LTTE dominated areas."

Stressing that Kilinochchi was significant for the LTTE's political and administrative activities, Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu, a political analyst, said, "The capture indicates very clearly that the LTTE's attempt to build up a quasi-state has now collapsed."

Exactly a year ago, Rajapakse's government formally scrapped an increasingly tattered six-year truce brokered by Norway, saying the rebels were using it as cover to regroup and re-arm.

The LTTE started fighting the government in 1983. It says it is battling for the rights of minority Tamils in the face of mistreatment by successive governments led by the Sinhalese majority since Sri Lanka won independence from Britain in 1948.

OneIndia News (With inputs from Agencies)

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