Sri Lanka's army chief (Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka)
announced Monday that Tamil rebels have been defeated and combat
operations are over, putting the entire nation under government control
for the first time since 1983.
The defense ministry says President Mahinda Rajapaksa is expected to address the nation from parliament Tuesday.
Sri Lankan state television announced Monday that Tamil Tiger rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran is dead.
A source in President Rajapaksa's office, speaking to VOA on condition
of anonymity, said a formal announcement will come after positive
identification is made.
Earlier Monday, the military said it had wiped out the rest of the Tiger rebels' leadership.
Tamil rebels began their fight for a separate homeland for the ethnic
Tamil minority 26 years ago. Since then, tens of thousands of people
have died in the conflict.
A U.S. State Department spokesman (Ian Kelly) says
Washington welcomes the end of fighting and urges the Sri Lankan
government to engage the Tamils and Sinhalese to reach a political
arrangement that benefits all Sri Lankans.
He also called on Colombo to provide for displaced civilians now living in relief camps.
The United Nations estimates up to 300,000 people have been displaced,
and about 6,500 civilians have died in the fighting since January.
The U.N. has called for an investigation into possible war crimes
committed by both the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers.
Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told journalists (Monday) that
the international community will eventually view the situation as the
Sri Lankan government does -- a victory over terrorism.
The European Union also called Monday for the Sri Lankan government to allow the U.N. full access to the conflict zone.
Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka's military said it recovered the bodies
of other top-ranked Tamil Tiger rebels, including Prabhakaran's son
Separately, special forces found the bodies of the group's political wing leader (B. Nadesan), peace secretariat (S. Puleedevan) and one of the rebels' top military leaders (known as Ramesh).
There was no immediate comment from the rebels, and it is difficult to
verify the report as the government bars independent observers from the