Family album of the Tamil who invented suicide bombings

Sri Lankan military releases photos of ruthless rebel leader

His whole adult life he has been in hiding, directing Asia's longest modern war, but as the shells continued to rain down on the strip of land his rebels hold, another, sweeter side of the life of the Tamil Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran was put on view by the Sri Lankan government.

The album of plundered family snaps shows him enjoying the sort of lifestyle his thousands of devoted cadres could only dream of: frolicking in a pool, celebrating his daughter's wedding, tucking into a banquet.

The ministry contrasted the comforts enjoyed by the man who is presumably still at bay in the Tigers' last hold-out with photos showing the primitive conditions in which his soldiers have long been required to live and fight.

Meanwhile, as his troops fought on, thousands of civilians trapped in the war's brutal end game are dying. A doctor inside the 5sq km strip on the island's north-east coast still controlled by the rebels reported that renewed shelling had killed at least 50 people in the only hospital in the so-called "safe zone".

It was the second day running and the third time in a month that government shells rained down on the hospital in the parcel of land where the Tigers are making their last stand and where an estimated 50,000 civilians are trapped. Video released by Tamil Vision in Canada showed wounded civilians sprawled on the ground under makeshift tents, fanned by relatives while flies swarmed around them, with one victim wailing in the background.

Speaking from the hospital, Dr V Shanmugarajah told Associated Press by telephone that one shell landed in the hospital's administrative office while another struck a ward crammed with patients who had been injured by earlier shelling.

Another doctor, Thurairaja Varatharajah, the most senior health officer in the conflict zone, said the attack killed at least 50 people, including patients, relatives and a health aide, and wounded another 60. He said the shelling continued all day.

"We are unable to treat people because a lot of aides have fled the hospital," Dr Varatharajah said by telephone to Colombo.

The International Committee for the Red Cross said that shelling killed one of its workers and prevented a Red Cross ferry off the coast of the war zone from landing and evacuating wounded civilians.

The reports belied Sri Lankan government claims that it had not fired heavy artillery into the safe zone for weeks. Brad Adams, the Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said: "Neither the Sri Lankan army nor the Tamil Tigers appears to have any reluctance in using the civilians as cannon fodder."

The ferocity of the assault on the Tigers' last redoubt reflects the desperation of the Sri Lankan army to finally finish off the man who has ruthlessly and charismatically led the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's struggle for an independent Tamil state on the island.

The reclusive Prabhakaran, who was born in the Jaffna peninsula in 1954, has been fighting the Sinhalese state since he was a teenager.

He eliminated all his rivals, invented the suicide bomber as a weapon of war and continues to inspire fanatical loyalty in his troops.

As these photographs show, however, he has not spent his whole life in a bunker.

Whether captured or killed, Prabhakaran will be the Sri Lankan army's great prize – but if rumours swirling in India this week are to be believed, they may come up empty-handed, even when the rebels' resistance is finally crushed.

The Indian Express reported rumours in Chennai, the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, that Prabhakaran may already be dead or may have fled to the safety of Europe.

Or perhaps he has merely slipped out of the war zone, ready to launch the war again when the army claims it is all over.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning: The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Polly Borgen at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012
peopleThe Emmy award-winner starred in Cape Fear, the Sopranos and Desperate House Wives
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
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

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teaching Assistant required in ...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam