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25 years of civil war

Sri Lankan troops marched into the Tamil Tigers de facto capital of Kilinochchi and the town is about to fall into government hands, an official said on Friday.

world Updated: Jan 02, 2009 12:53 IST

Sri Lankan troops marched into the Tamil Tigers de facto capital of Kilinochchi and the town is about to fall into government hands, an official said on Friday.

More than 70,000 people have died since 1983 and many more have been displaced in the war between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels who are fighting for an independent state in the north and east of the island.

Here are some milestones charting the conflict.

1948 - Island of Ceylon gains independence from Britain.

1956 - Government makes majority Sinhala language the language of state. Minority Tamils say they feel marginalised.

1958 - First anti-Tamil riots break out, killing dozens and forcing thousands from their homes. Becomes a watershed event in mutual distrust between Sinahalas and Tamils.

1972 - Country renamed Sri Lanka, becomes republic. Buddhism designated the principal religion.

1976 - Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) formed by militant Velupillai Prabhakaran.

1983 - Tiger attack in north kills 13 soldiers, triggering anti-Tamil riots in capital, Colombo. Hundreds die, thousands flee. Start of what Tigers call "First Eelam War".

1987 - Having earlier armed Tigers, India sends troops to enforce truce. Tigers renege on pact, refuse to disarm and begin three years of fighting that kills 1,000 Indian soldiers.

1990 - India withdraws. LTTE controls northern city of Jaffna. "Second Eelam War" begins.

1991 - Suspected Tiger suicide bomber kills former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in south India.

1993 - President Ranasinghe Premadasa assassinated by suicide bomber. LTTE widely blamed.

1995 - President Chandrika Kumaratunga agrees truce with rebels. "Eelam War 3" begins when rebels sink naval craft. Tigers lose Jaffna to government forces.

1995-2001 - War rages across north and east. Suicide attack on central bank in Colombo kills around 100. Kumaratunga wounded in another attack.

2002 - Landmark ceasefire signed after Norwegian mediation.

2003 - Tigers pull out of peace talks, ceasefire holds.

2004 - Tiger offensive regains control of east. Asian tsunami hits in December, killing around 30,000 Sri Lankans.

2005 - Suspected Tiger assassin kills foreign minister. Anti-Tiger hardliner Mahinda Rajapaksa wins presidency.

2006 - Fighting flares in April-July raising fears of start of "Eelam War 4". New talks fail in Geneva in October.

2007 - Government captures Tiger's eastern stronghold of Vakarai in January. In July, government says it has driven rebels from the entire east.

2008 - Government annuls 2002 ceasefire in early January.
-- By August: Military advances toward Tiger strongholds in north on four fronts, bringing war to doorstep of rebel-held turf. Military says it is within artillery distance of LTTE's main administrative city, Kilinochchi.

2009, Jan 2 - A government official says troops march into Kilinochchi and the town is about to fall into government hands.