Top Tamil Tigers surrender as Sri Lankan troops advance

April 22, 2009 (AFP) – Two key Tamil Tiger officials surrendered Wednesday as Sri Lankan troops pressed a final offensive against the rebels despite an international outcry over the fate of trapped civilians. Among the top rebels who turned themselves in was the Tigers’ main mouthpiece to the outside world, their chief spokesman Velayudam Dayanidi, better known as Daya Master.

Another official, who was an aide to the late head of the Tigers’ political wing, S.P. Thamilselvan, also surrendered.

The government’s defence spokesman said more than 80,000 people had fled the shrinking patch of territory still controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), saying troops were “rescuing” and not harming civilians caught up in the war.

“Our operations to rescue civilians is continuing,” Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters, describing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a spent force with just 12 square kilometres (five square miles) of land left.

“The LTTE has lost all its military capabilities. They are fighting a losing battle,” he said, adding the government also “strongly believes” that Tamil Tiger leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran, 54, was still in the area.

The defence