Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

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The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Sinhala: දෙමල ඊලාම් විමුක්ති කොටි සංවිධානය, ISO 15919: demala īlām vimukti koṭi saṁvidhānaya) (Tamil: தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் புலிகள், ISO 15919: tamiḻ īḻa viṭutalaip pulikaḷ; commonly known as the LTTE or the Tamil Tigers) is a separatist organization formerly based in northern Sri Lanka. Founded in May 1976 by Velupillai Prabhakaran, it waged a violent secessionist campaign that sought to create Tamil Eelam, an independent state in the north and east of Sri Lanka.[4] This campaign evolved into the Sri Lankan Civil War, which was one of the longest running armed conflicts in Asia until the LTTE was defeated by the Sri Lankan Military in May 2009.[5][6]

At the height of their power the Tigers possessed a well-developed militia and carried out many high profile attacks including the assassinations of several high-ranking Sri Lankan and Indian politicians including Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993, and former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.[7] The Tigers pioneered the use of suicide belts,[8] and used light aircraft in some of their attacks.[9] They are currently proscribed as a terrorist organization by 32 countries (see list of countries), but have extensive support amongst the Tamil diaspora in Europe and North America, and amongst some Tamils in India.[10][11] Since its inception, and until his death, LTTE founder, Velupillai Prabhakaran headed the organization.

Over the course of the conflict, the Tamil Tigers frequently exchanged control of territory in north-east Sri Lanka with the Sri Lankan military, engaging in fierce confrontations in the process. They were also involved in peace talks to end the conflict four times, each time unsuccessfully. At the start of the final round of peace talks in 2002, they had a 15,000 km2 area under their control. However, after the breakdown of the peace process in 2006, the Sri Lankan military launched a major offensive against the Tigers, bringing the entire country under their control and defeating the LTTE militarily. Victory over the Tigers was declared by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on May 16, 2009,[12] and the LTTE admitted defeat on May 17, 2009.[13] Prabhakaran was subsequently killed by government forces on May 19, 2009. Selvarasa Pathmanathan took over the leadership, however he was arrested, and interrogated by the Sri Lankan authorities.[14]

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