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Prabhakaran cremated: Sri Lanka army chief

Sri Lankan security forces have cremated the body of Tamil Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran, army chief Sarath Fonseka said in an interview to be published on Sunday.

world Updated: May 23, 2009 12:38 IST

Sri Lankan security forces have cremated the body of Tamil Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran, army chief Sarath Fonseka said in an interview to be published on Sunday.

General Fonseka told the Sunday Rivira newspaper that positive identification of Prabhakaran's body came on Tuesday morning following heavy fighting in the northeastern Mullaittivu district the previous day.

"We cremated the body in the same area and threw the ashes into the (Indian) ocean," Fonseka said. "Even before Prabhakaran was killed, I knew we had won the war, but I was overjoyed when I had confirmation of his death."

Fonseka, who led troops on an offensive that Sri Lanka said wiped out Prabhakaran's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after nearly four decades of bitter fighting, said the entire leadership of the Tigers had been killed.

However, the bodies of Tiger intelligence chief Pottu Amman and Prabhakaran's wife, Mathiwadini, had not been identified.

Military officials had said that the two were likely among some 250 Tiger cadres eliminated in the final phase of the fighting when the Tigers were cornered into a narrow sliver of land.

The government showed footage of Prabhakaran's body after a pro-rebel website said he was alive and well.

Prabhakaran's former deputy, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, who defected in March 2004, and a former Tiger spokesman known as Daya Master were flown to the northeast Tuesday and they positively identified their former boss.

On Monday, military sources said Prabhakaran was shot dead along with his two deputies as they tried to flee in an ambulance and another van.

The Tamilnet website on Friday repeated its claim that Prabhakaran was still alive, but offered no evidence in support.