Body of Tamil Tiger leader found, Sri Lanka's army says
The government had announced Prabhakaran's killing on Monday, but later said they had not yet found his body. A rebel official abroad denied Prabhakaran was killed and said he was in a safe place.
As speculation grew about Prabhakaran's fate, army chief Gen. Sarath Fonseka announced that the leader's body had been recovered.
"A few hours ago, the body of terrorist leader Prabhakaran, who ruined this country, was found in the battleground," he told state television. "I take responsibility for this statement."
Fonseka's announcement came hours after President Mahinda Rajapaksa delivered a victory address to parliament Tuesday, declaring that his country had been "liberated" from terrorism after defeating the Tamil Tiger rebels on the battlefield.
"We have liberated the whole country from LTTE terrorism," he said, declaring Wednesday a national holiday to celebrate the armed forces.
The rebels, listed as terrorists by the U.S. and European Union, had been fighting for three decades for a homeland for the mainly Hindu Tamil minority after decades of marginalization at the hands of governments dominated by the mainly Buddhist Sinhalese majority.
'Live as equals'
Briefly addressing parliament in the Tamil language, Rajapaksa said the war was not waged against the Tamil people.
"Our intention was to save the Tamil people from the cruel grip of the LTTE. We all must now live as equals in this free country," he said.
Rajapaksa has said in the past that he would negotiate some form of power sharing with the Tamil community following the war, and alluded Tuesday to the need for an agreement.
"We must find a homegrown solution to this conflict. That solution should be acceptable to all the communities," he said. "That solution, which would be based on the philosophy of Buddhism, will be an example to the whole world."