The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (commonly known as the Tamil Tigers or by the acronym LTTE) is a terrorist group operating in northern Sri Lanka. The LTTE was involved in the bloody civil war in Sri Lanka from 1983 until its defeat in 2009.
It was founded in 1976, originally with the goal of creating an independent state in northern Sri Lanka called Tamil Eelam. The LTTE was involved in four separate peace talks over its two-decade history, all of which failed. However, a ceasefire was declared in 2001. For the next seven years, LTTE militants and government forces engaged in sporadic fighting. Then, on January 2, 2008, the Sri Lankan government formally withdraws from the ceasefire, claming the LTTE has violated its terms more than 10,000 times. Heavy casualties are sustained by both sides as the Sri Lankan army slowly pushes North into heavily Tamil and pro-LTTE populations.
After one year of heavy fighting, the government finally captures Kilinochchi, the LTTE base of operations. The amount of territory held by the LTTE slowly diminishes. By May 2009, the LTTE held only about 840 acres of land, roughly the same size as Central Park. On May 18, the Sri Lankan government declared victory over the LTTE. Finally, on May 19, Velupillai Prabhakaran, the leader of the LTTE, was killed in a rocket attack as he fled the combat zone in a stolen ambulance. The same day, the LTTE admitted defeat. Over the next few days, many of the top LTTE leaders are killed, in addition to hundreds or thousands of LTTE militants.
- Rajiv Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India, was killed by a female suicide bomber on May 21, 1991.
- Ranasinghe Premadasa, the third president of Sri Lanka, was killed by a suicide bomber on May 1, 1993.
- Between 1980 and 2000, the LTTE has carried out 168 suicide bombings, more than Hamas and al-Qaeda combined.
Links to other groups
- The LTTE have been linked to supplying arms to radial Islamic terrorist groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Philippines.
- They also provided the false passport used by Ramzi Yousef (mastermind of the 1993 WTC bombings) to gain entrance to the United States in 1992.