Velupillai Prabhakaran Dies

Velupillai Prabhakaran (Tamil: வேலுப்பிள்ளை பிரபாகரன்; November 26, 1954 – May 19, 2009) was the founder and leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the LTTE or the Tamil Tigers), a militant organization that sought to create an independent Tamil state in the north and east of Sri Lanka. For over 25 years, the LTTE waged a violent secessionist campaign in Sri Lanka that led to it being designated a terrorist organization by 32 countries. Prabhakaran was wanted by Interpol for terrorism, murder, organized crime and terrorism conspiracy. He also had arrest warrants against him in Sri Lanka and India.

On May 18, 2009, the Sri Lankan Government announced that Prabhakaran had been killed while trying to escape advancing Sri Lanka Army troops in the north of the country. The next day, his body was shown on Sri Lankan media, and a week later Tamil Tiger spokesman Selvarasa Pathmanathan, admitted that Prabhakaran had died on May 17. Two weeks later a DNA test confirmed Prabhakaran's and his son Charles Anthony's deaths.

The Tigers, who during the height of their power possessed a well-developed militia cadre, are notorious for recruiting child soldiers, for carrying out civilian massacres, suicide bombings and various other high profile attacks, including the assassinations of several high-ranking Sri Lankan and Indian politicians like Rajiv Gandhi. They invented the suicide belt and pioneered the use of suicide bombing as a tactic. They also pioneered the use of women in suicide attacks, and used light aircraft in some of their attacks. They are currently proscribed as a terrorist organization by 32 countries (see list of countries), but have extensive support amongst the Tamil diaspora in Europe and North America, and amongst Tamils in India. Since its inception, and until his death, the LTTE was headed by its founder, Velupillai Prabhakaran. They currently do not have an official leader.