May 18, 2009 (AFP) – The leader of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers, Velupillai Prabhakaran, was shot dead Monday while trying to flee advancing troops, defence officials told AFP. Prabhakaran was in a small convoy of a van and ambulance along with several close aides which tried to drive out of the battle zone, but was attacked and killed, the senior defence ministry official said.
“He was killed with two others inside the vehicle. There will be a formal announcement later,” the official said on condition he not be named.
“When the troops opened fire, the van tried to get away, but it was also hit,” said another high-level source from the military. “The vehicle caught fire.”
The defence ministry said the rebels’ leadership was decimated, heralding an end to their decades-old battle to carve out an independent ethnic homeland in the north of the island.
Troops also found the bodies of Prabhakaran’s 24-year-old son Charles Anthony, the group’s political wing leader B. Nadesan, and the head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Peace Secretariat, S. Pulideevan.
Also reportedly found dead were the LTTE’s police chief Ilango, its eastern leader, S. Ram