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Sri Lanka says it has seized Jaffna peninsula

Sri Lanka says it has seized Jaffna peninsula

Sri Lanka's military Thursday seized a final strip of Tamil Tiger rebel-held land and secured total control of the key Jaffna peninsula in the north, an official said.
Jaffna, the cultural capital of the country's ethnic minority Tamils, has long been seen as the symbolic heart of the 25-year-old separatist insurgency on the island. Taking full control of the territory after nine years is a strategic and symbolic victory for the government.
Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said that all of Jaffna was secured when the soldiers captured Chundikkulam village. Last week, troops captured the Elephant Pass base, the insurgents' final stronghold on the peninsula.
Nanayakkara said the rebels retreated with their dead and the military did not suffer any casualties.
Rebel officials could not be reached for comment.
Sri Lanka's military started this year on a high, seizing the capital of the rebels' de facto state, securing Elephant Pass and forcing the retreating rebels into a small territory in the northeast.
Authorities say that they now hope in the coming months to finally crush the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The rebels are fighting to establish an independent state for minority Tamils, who have suffered marginalization at the hands of successive governments controlled by majority ethnic Sinhalese.
More than 70,000 people have been killed in the violence.