Sri Lanka to re-build areas taken from Tamil Tigers

July 13, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka announced Friday it would mark the fall of the last Tamil rebel bastion in the east of the island with the launch of an ambitious reconstruction plan. Sri Lanka’s 35-year-old conflict has claimed more than 60,000 lives, and over 5,200 people have been killed in fighting in the past 19 months, according to government figures. The plan, called the “Eastern Revival,” will be inaugurated here next Thursday, a spokesman for President Mahinda Rajapakse’s office said.

Details of the reconstruction plan were not immediately known.

Officials said they were keen to turn the rebel base of Thoppigala into a training area for security forces while the agricultural ministry wanted some land for corn farming.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) admitted on Thursday losing Thoppigala, a key stronghold, but said they would revert to guerrilla tactics in the troubled region.

Most of the Tiger fighters melted away from Thoppigala, a mountainous jungle area they dominated for more than 13 years, rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiriyan told reporters from the north.

The LTTE had previously said they would not resume peace negotiations unl