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'LTTE defeated, no word on Prabhakaran'

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today announced that his country has "militarily" defeated the LTTE, which had terrorised the island for nearly three decades, and promised the minority Tamil community with a "homegrown" political solution in the country's north.

world Updated: May 17, 2009 05:56 IST

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday announced that his country has "militarily" defeated the LTTE, which had terrorised the island for nearly three decades, and promised the minority Tamil community with a "homegrown" political solution in the country's north.

However, there was no word on the whereabouts of the LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran amid a government claim that the cornered rebels may be preparing to commit "mass suicide".

"My government with the total commitment of our Armed Forces, has in an unprecedented humanitarian operation, finally defeated the LTTE militarily," Rajapaksa said while addressing the summit of G-11 nations in Jordon.

"I will be going back to a country that has been totally freed from the barbaric acts of the LTTE," the President said as he cut short his visit to Jordon.

The Tigers are "preparing for a mass suicide after forces cut off their sea as well as land escape routes and cornered them in a mere 3.5 sq km area", a military statement said.

Rajapaksa also promised to follow the military victory with a "political solution" that will pave the way for democracy to root itself in the country's embattled north.

Rajapaksa claimed that as many as 210,000 civilians have been rescued so far by the country's security forces in a "well coordinated humanitarian operation" against the LTTE.

"The defeat of the LTTE on the ground heralds a new era in Sri Lanka. It provides all Sri Lankans with a brand new opportunity for peace and development.

"The liberation of regions hitherto controlled by the LTTE, which amounted to a fourth of Sri Lanka's land mass, paves the way for democracy to root itself and development to march ahead after decades of conflict. Efforts are already underway to complement the humanitarian mission with a political solution," he said.

Terming LTTE as the "most ruthless terrorist organisation," Rajapaksa said the rebels have massacred thousands of innocent civilians and tried to destroy the country's economy in the last 30 years.

Rajapaksa said his government is firmly committed to seeking a "homegrown solution" acceptable to all communities living in Sri Lanka.

"Despite LTTE's defeat on the ground, it could well continue to sustain itself overseas. Our timely action must therefore ensure that the LTTE and other like-minded terrorist groups do not continue to circumvent the law by indulging in illegal operations, through various front organisations located overseas," Rajapaksa said.