The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as the Tamil Tigers, are a separatist group in Sri Lanka. For the past thirty years, the LTTE have been agitating for a homeland for ethnic Tamils, who feel persecuted by Sri Lanka's ethnic majority, the Sinhalese. The LTTE is notorious for having pioneered the suicide bomb jacket, as well as the use of women in suicide attacks. They are blamed for a dozen high-level assassinations, over two hundred suicide attacks, and are engaged in an ongoing civil war in Sri Lanka that has cost more than seventy thousand lives. In 2008, the LTTE was pushed out of eastern parts of Sri Lanka, and by February 2009, the rebels had suffered significant setbacks in the north at the hands of the military.The Sri Lankan government claimed the end of the civil war was in sight. However, some experts warn it may be too early to write off the group which has proved to be a ruthless guerilla outfit in the past. Both the LTTE and the Sri Lankan military have been accused of engaging in abductions, extortion, conscription, and the use of child soldiers.
Who are the Tamils?
The Tamils are an ethnic group that lives in southern India (mainly in the state of Tamil Nadu) and on Sri Lanka, an island of 21 million people off the southern tip of India. Most Tamils live in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, and they comprise approximately 10 percent of the island's population, according to a 2001 government census. Their religion (most are Hindu) and Tamil language set them apart from the four-fifths of Sri Lankans who are Sinhalese—members of a largely Buddhist, Sinhala-speaking ethnic group. When Sri Lanka was ruled as Ceylon by the...