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Sri Lankan military: Last Tamil rebel stronghold captured

  • Story Highlights
  • Military say "couple of hundred" rebels could still be hiding in civilian zone
  • No immediate reaction from the Tamil Tiger rebels about military claims
  • Rebels have fought since 1983 for independence, war has left 70,000-plus dead
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(CNN) -- After three days of gun battles, the Sri Lankan military said it has captured the last stronghold of the Tamil Tiger rebels and killed five rebel leaders.

"Soldiers of 53 and 58 divisions and TF-VIII captured entire Puthukkudiyiruppu area, the last base station of the LTTE terrorists this morning," the military said in a statement posted on its Web site Sunday.

A "couple of hundred" rebels could be "hiding" in a 20-square-kilometer area designated as the "safety zone," military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara told CNN.

There will be no military offensive in that area, he said, as it has a civilian population of about 50,000 people.

Five rebel leaders were killed, the statement said, and a sixth was critically injured. More than 250 dead bodies of rebels were recovered, bringing the total number of bodies recovered during the last three days up to 420, the military said. Weapons were also recovered, according to the statement.

At least 110 rebels have surrendered to the military, army sources told CNN.

There was no immediate reaction from the Tamil Tiger rebels.

The organization has fought since 1983 for an independent homeland for the country's ethnic Tamil minority. The civil war has left more than 70,000 people dead.

All About Liberation Tigers of Tamil EelamSri Lanka

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