Jaffna sealed by troops

THE Sri Lankan military said yesterday that its troops were on the verge of capturing the rebel citadel of Jaffna. A military spokesman said the town was sealed off by government forces leaving the Tamil Tiger rebels inside with two choices: "either to surrender or commit suicide by swallowing the cyanide capsules hung around their necks".

Brigadier Sarath Munasinghe, the chief military spokesman, said: "We are now in full control of the town, barring small pockets of resistance." The capture of Jaffna, which had been ruled by the Tamils as virtually a separate mini-state since 1990, has cost the Sri Lankan armed forces a heavy price. The Tamil Tigers have yet to confirm Jaffna's fall.

During the 46-day assault on Jaffna, more than 500 Sri Lankan soldiers were killed, along with an estimated 2,000 Tamil rebels. More than 500,000 Tamils were left homeless by the offensive.

"We are not in the town centre, but we have sealed off the area and no one can go in or out," the military spokesman said. The Tiger defenders would be cleared out within the next 48 hours. Military sources said that between 500 and 1,000 Tamil Tigers had stayed behind to resist the government troops, while the rest vanished into the jungles south of Jaffna to regroup for later guerrilla attacks.

One of the last buildings to fall in Jaffna was a 17th-century Dutch fortress beside the lagoon which rebels had used as their main garrison.

The military's advance up to the star-shaped fortress was slowed, often to several hundred yards a day, by fierce Tamil Tiger resistance.

The Tiger chief, Velupillai Prabakharan, escaped Jaffna with the bulk of his rebel force and has vowed to fight on for a separate homeland in Sri Lanka.

Still, Jaffna's capture has shattered the myth of the Tigers' invincibility, which arose through the rebels' use of suicide assassins. The government must now persuade the half a million Tamil refugees to return to the area newly-captured by the Sri Lankan military. The Tamils are a minority in Sri Lanka, whose majority are Sinhalese.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map