A statement released by the Sri Lankan defence ministry claims that the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was killed while attempting to flee the conflict zone in an ambulance. The reports of Velupillai Prabhakaran's death accompanied news that the bodies of four leading members of LTTE have been recovered, including that of Prabhakaran's son Charles Anthony.
The toD verdict: Monday's announcement came after reports that the military had cornered Prabhakaran in a tiny patch of jungle in the northeast, and coincided with the ceasefire declaration made the previous day by the LTTE which the Sri Lankan government refused to accept. Despite the wish of the LTTE to "silence" their guns, the military is determined to definitively end the 26-year old civl war. Government officials reported their reluctance to agree to ceasefires, which, as in the past, the LTTE could use to rearm and regroup. Instead, military officials aim to capture or kill the remaining Tamil Tiger insurgents.
Like most statements that come out from the frontlines in Sri Lanka's bloody conflict, Velupillai Prabhakaran's death is yet to be independently verified because of the ban on media and aid workers in the region. The civil war, which has raged since 1983, has prompted calls by international institutions such as the European Union for investigations into allegations of war crimes committed by both sides. Recent claims that the LTTE were using phosphorus gas in attacks on civilians are mirrored by the Tamil accusations that the Sri Lankan government employed chemical weapons in its strikes.
Keep up to date with the latest developments and sharpest perspectives in a world of strife and struggle. Sign up to receive toD's daily security briefings via email by clicking here What it sees as victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels has prompted the Sri Lankan government to claim that it has "liberated the entire country" and brought an end to the ongoing civil war which has killed over 70,000 people. However, Erik Solheim, a Norwegian minister and former negotiator in the conflict, warned that peace has not yet been secured. He emphasised the importance of the Sri Lankan government adopting a generous and fair position towards the Tamils, traditionally marginalised in the majority Sinhalese country.
Chad strike edges nation to brink of war with Sudan
The Chadian air force carried out strikes on "mercenaries" in Sudan on Sunday, which the government claimed has destroyed seven groups of fighters and taken 100 people prisoner. The raid, which Sudanese government officials condemned as an "act of war", seems to have been at least in part a response to allegations that the Sudanese government supported a failed uprising by insurgents against the Chadian army last week. Chad and Sudan have a history of blaming the other of aiding rebel factions, and last year anti-government attacks reached as far as the countries' respective capitals before being repelled.
The Central African Republic (CAR) has suffered in the past from the spill-over of hostilities between Chad and Sudan, and last Friday saw the death of seven people when violence broke out between anti-government rebel group APRD and cattle thieves from Chad. Civilians in CAR had reportedly called for the APRD to take action against the bandits after their own government failed to do so.
Confusion amongst Somali rebels as they claim more land
The Somali government lost yet more ground to Islamist rebels over the weekend, when a strategic town north of the capital of Mogadishu was seized by the al-Shabaab group. Jowhar was captured on Sunday morning after hours of fighting which resulted in seven deaths. Sixty-eight people have reportedly been killed in clashes between Islamist factions since Friday, resulting in the death of over 172 civilians in the past two weeks. This violence between rebel factions shows the increasingly apparent divisions between groups. Sheikh Yusuf Mohamed Siad, a former warlord and important leader of the opposition, defected over the weekend to join the government. He explained his choice by claiming that Islamist groups persistently indulged in activities that he considered irreligious, such as the executions of innocent people. The anti-government movement looks set to collapse into an anarchic struggle for power amongst rebel factions.
These developments came as the UN Security Council expressed it concerns over reported aid being supplied to al-Shabaab fighters by the Eritrean government. The latter denies all allegations.
Allegations of government bombings in oil-rich Niger Delta
Following the declaration on Friday of the Nigerian group Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) that it was declaring "all out war" against the army, the rebel faction claims that the Nigerian government has carried out indiscriminate bombings on civilian targets in the Niger Delta. MEND claims are corroborated by the Ijaw National Congress, which represents the Niger Delta's largest ethnic group and claims that over 1,000 civilians have been affected by government attacks.
Over the weekend, the Nigerian government also claimed to have recovered two Filipino hostagesViolence in the Niger Delta is largely based around the abundant oil trade in the region, the profits of which MEND say they are fighting to redistribute to poor locals. Nigeria is one of the world's largest crude oil exporters, and production has decreased by twenty percent since 2006 due to raids on oil production facilities and staff. during an operation carried out against the rebels, though MEND spokespeople have repudiated this claim and said that the hostages were in fact killed by government forces in the crossfire.
Security tightened as Aung San Suu Kyi faces five more years in prison
Security was stepped up in Myanmar on Monday as the ruling junta prepared to try Aung San Suu Kyi on charges that she violated conditions of her detention. Shops surrounding Rangoon's Insein prison, where the opposition leader is currently being held, have been temporarily closed, and visits to inmates prohibited. The country's charismatic opposition leader has been under house arrest for thirteen of the past nineteen years and the latest charges, which could see her incarcerated for a further five years, come just two weeks before her latest six-year sentence was set to expire. It is thought that the government's decision is a pretext for the detainment of Suu Kyi during the elections that are set to take place next year. Activists in Myanmar and around the world have vowed to carry out demonstrations until she is released, and crowds gathered outside the Yangon prison calling for her release on Monday. Appeals have also come from governments, human rights groups and the United Nations for Suu Kyi's unconditional release.
US drone attacks continue in Pakistan and Afghanistan
A US drone attack in Pakistan on Saturday killed ten militants after it hit a house and a vehicle. The attack was targeting suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban cells in the Khaisor area of North Waziristan, and was the third to have taken place this month. The government in Islamabad ostensibly objects to US drone attacks which, it claims undermine the government's sovereignty. However, the US military maintains that it works closely with Asif Ali Zardari's government and shares all intelligence information relating to the drone attacks. The US has stepped up its raids in past months, particularly on the Afghan-Pakistani border, in an attempt to counter the growing influence of the Taliban.
Like its neighbour, the government in Afghanistan objects to US drone attacks on their land and an investigation carried out by an investigative team announced on Saturday that US air attacks in Farah province resulted in 140 civilian deaths last week alone. In other news in Afghanistan, three civilians were killed and four injured when a missile fired from Pakistan struck a mosque on Friday. Several rockets were fired over the border and were thought to have been aimed at the US military base of Camp Salerno.