Rebel Leader Shot Dead in Final Stages of Sri Lanka WarWorld | May 18, 2009, Monday // 11:54| views
Unconfirmed reports say Velupillai Prabhakaran was shot dead in an ambush while trying to escape the fighting in an ambulance. Photo by thisislondon.co.uk
The leader of the Tamil Tiger rebels, Velupillai Prabhakaran, is dead, Sri Lankan state television has said, cited by the BBC.
The announcement came shortly after the military said it had surrounded Prabhakaran and about 200 rebels in a tiny patch of jungle in the north-east.
The claim cannot be verified as reporters are barred from the war zone.
Sri Lankan forces had routed the rebels in the past few weeks, over-running their territory and bringing the 26-year war to its conclusion.
The broadcast said Prabhakaran was killed along with two of his deputies.
Unconfirmed reports say the three were shot dead in an ambush while trying to escape the fighting in an ambulance.
State television broke into special programming in which military spokesman Brig Udaya Nanayakkara confirmed Prabhakaran's death.
He said 250 Tamil Tigers were killed overnight and that all territory was now in the hands of the Sri Lankan army.
In the past few days, the Tigers (LTTE) had been penned into a 1.5 square kilometre area.
The Tigers had been fighting for a separate state for Tamils in the north and east of Sri Lanka since the 1970s.
More than 70 000 people have been killed in the conflict and thousands displaced.
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