Sri Lankan Tigers flee to jungle as troops take final bastion

Sri Lankan Police forming a human chain in parliament to protect the Speaker and enable a vote.

January 26, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lankan government troops were Monday pushing into the last pockets of jungle still held by Tamil Tigers after the capture of the rebels’ last urban stronghold and military headquarters. Soldiers on Sunday overran Mullaittivu, a northeastern coastal lagoon town that was the Tigers’ main base for more than a decade, the island’s army chief announced in a televised address to the nation.

The Tigers’ latest setback follows the loss three weeks ago of their political capital of Kilinochchi, where they had the trappings of a separate state with their own police, courts and a bank.

Army chief Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) now controlled just a “small strip” of land in the northeast and were completely cornered.

“We have cleared 95 percent of the work (to defeat the Tigers),” Fonseka said, adding the island’s government — which abandoned a Norwegian-brokered truce a year ago — was now on the verge of winning one of Asia’s longest-running civil wars after a massive ground, sea and air campaign against the rebels.

“The end of terrorism is near and we will definitely win,” he said.

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