Short answer:


LTTE was a Sri Lankan Tamil politico-military organization which fought a secessionist war with the Sri Lankan Armed Forces from 1983 to 2009.

Long answer:

LTTE fought for a separate nation for Sri Lankan Tamils who dominates North and eastern parts of Sri Lanka.

LTTE was the only separatist movement which was frequently invited by International communities for peace talks.
LTTE was the only militant group which lost 30,000+ fighters in its lifetime.
LTTE was the only group which had Army, navy and Air-Force.
Along with fighting Government forces LTTE simultaneously ran a de-facto state in the areas which were controlled by them. It is/was known as Tamil Eelam.


Tamil Eelam (de-facto state)
LTTE Military divisions
Origin of LTTE(1970–1983)
Civil War (1983–2009)
Rise of LTTE/ Eelam War III (1996–2002)
Fall of LTTE/Eelam War IV (2006–2009)
TAMIL EELAM (1990s to 2009):

Prime Minister and President : Velupillai Prabhakaran

Headquarter/capital: Kilinochchi

Until 1995 Jaffna was the headquarter of LTTE. But they lost Jaffna in 1995. When they captured Kilinochchi in 1998 it becomes LTTE’s new headquarter and capital.

Image: LTTE’s home-made turbine at the Iranamadu Power Station, Kilinochchi.

At their peak time:

They controlled approximately 67% of coast of Sri Lanka.
They had annual budget of US $200 Million to $300 million. Their main source of income was from expatriate Sri Lankan Tamils.
They had their own Military, Navy and Air-Force.
They had their own Police, Courts, Public Bus services, Immigration/ Emigration offices, Banks, etc.

Tamil Eelam National flag:

Tamil Eelam symbols:

National Anthem:

Eruthu paar kodi, Tamil: ஏறுது பாரு கொடி (look the flag is rising) written by Puthuvai Rathinathurai.

National flower:

Gloriosa Superba

National Animal:

Sri Lankan Leopard.

National Bird:

Greater Cougal

National Tree:

Albizia Lebbeck.

Political division chief:

Image: S.P.Tamilchelvan, chief of LTTE’s political division.

S.P.Tamilchelvan was LTTE’s political chief until 2007. He was also the face of LTTE’s International negotiating team.

After his death in late 2007 Nadesan who was also the chief of Tamil Eelam Police Force(TEPF) was made political chief. Nadesan was the second and also the last political chief until LTTE’s demise in May 2009.

Image: Sri Lanka IGP(Inspector General of Police) Fernando shaking hands with Tamil Eelam Police Force chief Nadesan(R) in 2006.

Tamil Eelam Police Force (TEPF):

Punishments were very severe under the LTTE law. So virtually there was no crimes in Tamil Eelam. Only minor crimes were prevalent. Rapist were punished with death sentence.


LTTE Prison:

Image: Small cells of one of the LTTE Prisons.

Tamil Eelam court:

As the president of Tamil Eelam only Prabhakaran had the power to overturn a death sentence.

Image: Court proceedings against 3 Sri Lankan Policemen(right) who entered LTTE territory without permission.

Tamil Eelam Law College:

Image: LTTE senior leader Tamilchelvan at a law college convocation.

LTTE Home-guards:

Image: LTTE home-guards patrolling on the streets of Kilinochchi.

Tamil Eelam Transport Board(TTB):

Image: Buses belongs to LTTE’s Tamil Eelam Transport Board.

Senchcholai Illam(Orphanage home for female children):

LTTE had opened several orphanage homes known as Senchcholai illam for orphaned female children who lost their parents due to civil war.

Image: Prabhakaran inaugurating one of the Senchcholai Illam.

Bank of Tamil Eelam: 

Thuyilum Illam(Resting place):

Image: One of the LTTE cemeteries with oil lamps during one of the Heroes Day.


Image: Prabhakaran explaining an attack plan to his top commanders.

Leopard Commandos (Siruththai Padaai):

Image: Unlike other LTTE units(including black Tigers) which had uniforms with Tigers stripes, Leopard commandos had special uniforms with leopard stripes.

Leopard commandos were elite commandos of LTTE equivalent to special commandos of any state military. They were highly trained to launch precise operations.

LTTE Engineering Corps:

Image: Col.Raju(1961–2002) leader of LTTE’S Engineering Corps.

Image: Underdeveloped LTTE submarine at a War memorial

Image: Armored LTTE truck made for transportation of LTTE VIPs.

Image: This deadly suicide boat was also the brain-child Col.Raju.

LTTE had produced several home-made weapons. Most of them were made of materials available locally.

Charles Anthony Brigade:

Image: Fighters of Charles Anthony Brigade at a military exercise.

Charles Anthony Brigade was the special force of LTTE. It was named after Prabhakaran’s best friend Charles Anthony who died in 1983. Charles Anthony brigade was the first Non-state regiment to win a conventional battle when they won the Second Battle of Elephant Pass in 2000.

Kittu Artillery Unit:

Prabhakaran asked Col.Bhanu to form a special artillery and armor unit. Bhanu formed an artillery unit with the help of artillery pieces captured from army. Later they started to buy artillery guns from black market and assembled them in Sri Lanka.

Jeyanthan Brigade:

Image: LTTE fighters of Jeyanthan Brigade.

Jeyanthan brigade was exclusively made of cadres from Eastern province. Even when eastern LTTE chief Karuna revolted against Prabhakaran in 2004 these eastern fighters remained loyal to Prabhakaran (mainstream LTTE).

Jeyanthan Brigade remained one of the elite regiments of LTTE. This Brigade had played vital roles in LTTE’s victories in several battles.

Imaran-Pandian Regiment (Bodyguards of Prabhakaran):

Image: Prabhakaran with his bodyguard Gaddafi. Until 2005 Gaddafi was special commander of Imran-Pandian unit which was specially created to protect Prabhakaran.

Image: One of the bodyguards of Prabhakaran.

Female Tamil Tigers:

Females were recruited regularly by LTTE. It had two exclusive female brigades: Malathy brigade and Sothiya brigade.

Image: Female Tigers of Lt.Malathi Regiment.

Victor Anti-Tank Regiment(RPG Unit):

Kutty Sri Mortar Unit:

Anbarasi Regiment (Anti-aircraft Unit):

Image : LTTE fighter aiming a MANPAD (surface to air missile launcher)

Image: Female Tiger with Anti-Aircraft gun.

Deep Penetration Unit:

Image: One of the early LTTE deep penetration units passing information after returning from behind enemy line. The white arm band helped to avoid friendly fire while returning back to LTTE held areas.

LTTE NAVY (Sea Tigers) :

Tamil Sea Tigers was one of the most effective non-state navies ever formed, inflicting significant damage and heavy casualties on government forces during the Sri Lankan Civil War. Using fast attack craft, human torpedoes and frogmen combined with innovative and bold tactics, the Sea Tigers sank about 30 navy patrol boats as part of the Tamil rebellion to create an independent state.

Image: Sea Tiger chief Col. Soosai.

Image: Female sea tigers.

AIR-FORCE (Air-tigers):

LTTE was the first and only militant group to field an Air-Force of its own.

Image: LTTE’s Iranamadu Air-strip which is now renovated by the Sri Lankan Government and currently used by Air-Force.

Image: Air Tigers on their maiden flight in 2007

BLACK TIGERS (Suicide Squads):

Black Tigers were most disciplined elite force of LTTE. They had assassinated two top leaders of World: ex-Indian PM Mr.Rajiv Gandhi and President of Sri Lanka Mr.Premadasa.

As suicide attracts empathy Prabhakaran had coined a new Tamil term “thaat kodaai” means self-gift or gifting self. It was also believed that Prabhakaran was inspired by Chevars of Tamil Chera Kingdom who became suicide attacker and defeated the mighty Chola king.

Image: 21 Black Tigers team which was involved in the Anuradhapuram raid in 2007.

Image: Prabhakaran paying homage to the 10 slain Black tigers who raided Government forces’ Vanni SF HQ in 2008.

Infantry :

Image: Infantry Black Tigers widely uses by LTTE commanders to break enemy’s front line formations.

Sea Black Tigers:

Image: Sri Lankan Navy supply ship attacked by sea black tigers in 1991.

Image: Sea Black Tiger on explosive laden suicide boat. These suicide boats were too fast and too low that were almost impossible to detect or shoot them.

Air Black Tigers:

Image: Air Black Tigers Col.Rooban and Lt.Col. Siriththiran who launched kamikaze style suicide attacks on Colombo on 20th February 2009.

TOSIS (Intelligence Unit):

Image: Pottu Amman TOSIS chief 1988–2009.

TOSIS (Tiger Organization Security Intelligence Servic) was LTTE’s intelligence wing and it had very efficient intelligence network. He effectively adopted the techniques of Israel’s MOSSAD and Pakistan’s ISI. They had infiltrated their agents into Sri Lankan Army, Police, important Government offices, etc.


Sri Lankan Tamils tolerated discrimination for about 30+ years since Independence. But 1970s saw a new generation of Tamil youths who were angry and were in no mood of tolerating discrimination. These youths lost faith in the peaceful agitations by their elders. Suddenly one after another several Tamil groups were emerged.


November 26, Prabhakaran was born.

People who knew him personally said that he was a born leader with charismatic personality. Even as a kid Velupillai Prabhakaran never minded mingling with lower caste children.

As he grew he started to show too much interest in Tamil politics.

Image: Ancestral home of Prabhakaran where he spent his childhood. Now its one of the main tourist attractions in VVT.


Entry into Armed struggle at 15 : Prabhakaran joined the group of famous duo Kuttimani – Thangathurai. Both were elder to Prabhakaran and were from his own village of VVT(Valvettithurai).


TNT (Tamil New Tigers) was founded: Prabhakaran founded TNT group at the age of just 17 with few of close partners.


TYF (Tamil Youth Front) a political organization was formed by Amirthalingam. It had 40+ youth members. But proactively Sri Lankan police started to arrest all its members. TYF was betrayed by their own member. Due to severe torture by police one of the arrested members gave the full list of the TYF members and it’s activities. Police started to hunt all its member. Prabhakaran’s address was also compromised.

Young Prabhakaran narrowly escaped through the back door of his house when police knocked at his front door. From then onwards he started to remain in different hideouts like friends’ and relative’s houses. Later Prabhakaran escaped to India.


Tamil Conference Incident took place when Government forces attacked thousands of Tamil civilians who were assembled there to attend the conference . Policemen shot in the air which broke an electric wire and it fell on the people. 7 civilians died of electrocution. At the end 9 Tamil civilians were killed and 50+ were injured. Instead of punishing those policemen Government promoted them. This incident was one of the important events which led to the rise of Tamil militancy.

Image: Memorial at the site of the Tamil Conference Incident.

This incident increased the anger of Tamil youth. They blamed then Jaffna Mayor Alfred Duraiappah for this tragic incident.

July 5: Suicide of Sivakumaran, a young Tamil Militant. He was involved in a failed Bank robbery and was rounded up by the Sri Lankan Police. To avoid arrest he swallowed cyanide capsule and committed suicide. (He was already once arrested by the Police and gone through a severe torture by them. So after release he started to wear a cyanide capsule around his neck to avoid arrest). He become the first Tamil militant to die for the Tamil Eelam cause. Later Prabhakaran told that it was Shivakumaran’s death which inspired him to make cyanide capsule mandatory for all LTTE cadres.

Same year Prabhakaran returned to Sri Lanka.

1975: Prabhakaran assassinated Jaffna Mayor:

Image: Jaffna mayor Alfred Duraiappah.

Prabhakaran shot dead Jaffna Mayor Alfred Duraiappah at a Hindu temple. Later Prabhakaran claimed that it was his first murder. It was also the first high profile murder of eventual Sri Lankan Civil War. The reaction among tamil people was mixed. Duraiappah was people friendly but he always supported the Government. So after his death most people were happy especially youths.


May 5,LTTE was founded: Prabhakaran renamed TNT as LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). Uma Maheswaran was made its chief and Prabhakaran become its military commander.


LTTE secretly conducted training in the forest.

Prabhakaran(c) with other Tamil Tigers during the early days of LTTE.


Prabhakaran’s growing domination on LTTE annoyed its members. When Uma Maheswaran was expelled from LTTE he founded his own group PLOTE( People’s Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam). Most of the members left LTTE and joined Uma’s PLOTE. Only his loyal friends remained in LTTE. Prabhakaran become angry and disappointed. He too left LTTE but rejoined shortly.


Two prominent future leaders joined LTTE:

Soosai: (1981–2009)

Soosai was LTTE’s sea Tigers’ chief. He had made LTTE one of the best non-state Navies in the World.

Bottu Amman: (1981–2009)

Young Bottu Amman (L) with Vaiko and Prabhakaran in 1980s.

Bottu Amman was made LTTE’s intelligence wing TOSIS’ chief in 1988. From 1988 to its demise in 2009 he remained chief of both TOSIS and Black Tigers.

June 1, Burning of Jaffna Public Library: On the night of the incident several policemen and paramilitary personnel set fire to the prestigious Jaffna public library. It was seen as the direct attempt of Government to destroy the evidence of Tamil ethnicity from Sri Lanka. Before destruction it had 97,000 books and several irreplaceable manuscripts.

Image: Burnt library

Image: Jaffna public Library after restoration.

October 15, First attack on Sri Lankan Army: For the first time Sri Lankan Army came under attack by the Tamil militants. LTTE attacked an army Truck and killed 2 soldiers.

1982: (Indirect involvement of India)

May 19, Shootout in Madras: LTTE chief Prabhakaran and PLOTE chief Uma Maheswaran were involved in a shootout in Pondy Bazaar in Madras (Chennai). Both were arrested. Due to the interference of TN political leaders they were later granted conditional bail. Uma was asked to stay in Madras while Prabhakaran was sent to Madurai(south TN).

It was the first time that Tamil Nadu(Indian) politicians involved in an Tamil militant issue. Till then Tamil militants were free to roam in Madras or any other part of Tamil Nadu.

November 27, Lt.Shankar become the first LTTE cadre to die in a combat.

Image: Lt.Shankar

Shankar was staying at a LTTE supporter’s house. He went there to pass an information. Suddenly he found himself surrounded by the military. He was able to break the military cordon but not before a bullet hit his stomach. Injured Shankar ran 3 km and reached the nearest LTTE base. There he handed over his pistol to his comrades and fell unconscious because of heavy bleeding. It was LTTE’s code of conduct to avoid arrest and securing the weapon.

At that time LTTE had only 30 cadres and didn’t even had a boat or walkie-talkie. Later Anton (LTTE cadre) was able to transport Shankar to Tamil Nadu in a boat. After leaving him at a safe house with a doctor Anton went to Madurai. There he informed Prabhakaran about Shankar’s condition. Prabhakaran reached the spot and Shankar breathed his last on his leader’s lap.

It was one of those very rare moments when Prabhakaran cried in public.


July 15, Charles Anthony died:

Image: Prabhakaran’s best friend Charles Lucas Anthony aka Seelan

Prabhakaran’s best friend Charles Anthony had been injured in a bank robbery and police station attack. On a tip off Police got his location and injured Charles tried to run as much possible. But finally he gave up and asked his partner to shoot him. He was shot dead by his partner before police could catch him alive.

Prabhakaran named LTTE’s elite regiment as Charles Anthony Brigade. He even named his elder son as Charles Anthony.

July 23, Ambush:To avenge his best friend and comrades’ death Prabhakaran came out with an ambush plan.

Image: Prabhakaran(left) with Sellakili who planned the ambush along with Kittu.

On the night of 23rd July LTTE successfully ambushed an Army Patrol vehicle and killed 13 soldiers. It was the most successful attack carried out by any Tamil militant group at that time. Unfortunately the mastermind of the plan Sellakili got killed in the action.

July 24–30, Anti-Tamil Pogrom : Death of those 13 soldiers triggered the anti-tamil pogrom across Sri Lanka. More than 3000 Tamil Civilians were killed , more than 25000 were injured and properties worth several lakhs were destoyed by angry Sinhala mobs. Mob did all these with the help of the Government. As a result hundreds of angry Tamil youths joined different tamil militant groups especially LTTE.


Eelam War I (August 1983- July 1987):

Different Tamil militant groups launched attacks on Government forces.


Training in India: The bloody anti-Tamil pogrom, pressure from Tamil Nadu congress leaders and Sri Lanka’s new obsession with other countries forced then Prime Minister of India Mrs. Indira Gandhi to order RAW to train Tamil Militants. Along with LTTE several other groups were also got trained in India.

Clever Prabhakaran:

To protect the identity of LTTE cadres Prabhakaran asked RAW to train LTTE in separate camps.
He asked LTTE cadres not to disclose their real names to RAW. He asked them to register their nom de Guerre with the RAW.
While getting training in India he established a separate International network to buy weapons. He knew India was using Tamil Militants so he wanted to get out of India’s shadow as soon as possible.He himself established his own training camps in Tamil Nadu.

Image: Prabhakaran (3rd from left) at a LTTE training camp in Sirumalai, Tamil Nadu, India.

October 1, Prabhakaran marriage: He got married to Mathivathani at Tirupur, Tamil Nadu. She was a student of Jaffna University. Along with other Tamil girls she was staging a fast-protest. When the conditions of those girls deteriorated LTTE abducted those girls and brought then to Tamil Nadu. There Prabhakaran fell in love with Mathivathani.

Image: Prabhakaran and Mathivathani marriage at a temple.

Mid 1980s:

Prabhakaran established good relationship with Tamil Nadu politicians especially then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.G.Ramachandran.

Image: Prabhakaran(c) and Col. Shankar having a conversation with M.G.R.


April, LTTE joined ENLF (Eelam National Liberation Front): ENLF was formed in 1984 to unite all Tamil militant groups to fight together against Sri Lankan Army. After staying away from the ENLF for nearly 1 year at last Prabhakaran (LTTE) decided to join it in 12 the April 1985.

Image: From left Sabaratnam(TELO), Pathmanaba (EPRLF), Prabhakaran (LTTE)and Balakumar(EROS).

April/May, Ceasefire: India intervened and proposed a ceasefire. Eelam War I was halted temporarily.

July/Aug , Thimpu Talks: India mediated peace talks held at Thimphu ( Bhutan). Delegations from Sri Lankan Government and various Tamil militant groups attended the talks. But this peace talks failed as both sides refused to accept other party’s suggestions.

Aug 24, Balasingham deported: After Thimpu Talks failed India deported Anton Balasingham, chief spokesperson of LTTE. Along with him two other prominent Eelam leaders Chelvanayagam and Satyendra were also deported. Tension grew in Tamil Nadu as many people protest Central Government’s decision to deport these people.


October, TN Police crack down: Police were ordered to seize weapons and communication equipment from all Militant groups present in the Madras city. Along with other groups LTTE also lost all their weapons and equipments.

Desperate Prabhakaran declared fast unto death. As a result various pro-LTTE parties forced M.G.R. to give back all weapons and equipments. LTTE was more than happy as along with their own weapons they also got weapons of other militant groups.


June 5, Operation Poomalai: Indian Air Force air-dropped several tonnes of food parcels and medicines to Jaffna when the city was under siege by Sri Lankan Forces.

July 5, First Black Tiger attack:

Image: Captain Miller, first Black Tiger

Capt.Miller rammed a small truck full of explosives on a Army base and killed scores of soldiers. He became LTTE’s first black tiger/suicide bomber.

Later every year LTTE observed 5th July as Black tiger day.

Image: Prabhakaran observing Black Tigers day in 2006.

July 29, Indo-Sri Lankan Accord: Indian Prime Minister and Sri Lankan President signed Indo-Sri Lankan Accord. Strangely Tamil militant leaders were not considered. India directly ordered all militant groups to surrender their weapons. Prabhakaran got furious. He directly said “we need India’s support but we never allow India to force their decision on Eelam people.” 29

Image: Signing of Indo-Sri Lankan Accord

Prabhakaran started to sense a threat to his life in India/TN. He knew that Indian Government or Sri Lankan Government could assassinate him to end the Civil War forever. By rejecting India’s biased suggestions he had already angered Indian Government. So he escaped to Sri Lanka. He had done so second time under the watchful eyes of Indian police.

July, IPKF arrived :

From the last July Indian Army started to reach Sri Lanka.

August ,Suthumalai LTTE conference:

Image: LTTE’s Kumarappa addressing the crowd with Prabhakaran and other LTTE leaders present on stage.

Image: Thousands of people gathered to listen Prabhakaran and other LTTE leader’s speeches.

Addressing those thousands of people Prabhakaran declared that trusting India’s promise of protecting Eelam Tamils and LTTE fighters he ( read LTTE) decided to surrender their weapons . But he warned that if Tamil people’s were harassed he would never mind pickings up guns again.

August, LTTE surrendered weapons:

Image: LTTE cadre surrendering his weapon on 15th August 1987 at Jaffna.

Dirty game : Though India, LTTE and SriLanka agreed to follow the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord but they cheated each other on their back.

  1. LTTE : Prabhakaran was secretly eliminating leaders of his rival groups.
  2. India: IPKF was secretly arming LTTE’s rival groups to defeat LTTE if Prabhakaran refused to obey India.
  3. Sri Lanka: Secretly helped sinhalese families in settling down in Tamil areas to unbalance Tamil dominance.

September 26, Theelipan: A Tamil activist on 15th september started a hunger strike to protect the rights of Tamil people. Indian Army commanders not only ignored him but also refused to meet him. After refusing food and water for 12 days he died on 26th September. He died right in front of hundreds of people who had gathered to support him. This incident turns the anger of Tamil people against Indian Army. They felt betrayed

Image: Prabhakaran talking with Thileepan who was observing hunger strike at that time.

October 5, Mass suicide by LTTE fighters: 17 LTTE fighters were arrested by Sri Lankan Navy. Prabhakaran asked Indian Army to get his cadres released. But his request was ignored. Later when Sri Lankan Army tried to take them to Colombo all 17 tigers attempted suicide by swallowing cyanide capsules. 12 (out of 17) cadres died including top LTTE commander Kumarappa and Pulendiran. Prabhakaran felt betrayed now because Indian Army promised to protect LTTE fighters.

Image: Pulendiran(left) and Kumarappa along with other 10(bottom) LTTE cadres who committed suicide. Image published by a pro- LTTE website.

October, LTTE attacked IPKF: Prabhakaran was furious because of the death of Thileepan and 12 tigers. He ordered his commanders to attack Indian Army. After 20 days of bloody battle LTTE was chased out o the Jaffna. In this process 319 Indian soldiers and 1100 LTTE fighters died at the end of October.

October 11–12, Jaffna Helidrop:

Image: Football ground where Indian soldiers were surrounded by LTTE cadres and their sharpshooters. The mission turn out to be the most disastrous mission in the history of Indian Army.

Clueless India: India was clueless about its mission in India. Mr.Dixit was sent to Colombo to convince Sri Lankan President to implement all the promises made in the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord. IPKF was asked to keep fighting LTTE. RAW was asked to keep helping LTTE and convince Prabhakaran to come to negotiation table. All these three things were done simultaneously.When the mission was failed each side blamed the other two sides.

After losing Jaffna Prabhakaran and his troops escaped to Wanni jungles


When IPKF felt that they were about to destroy LTTE they were betrayed by the newly elected Sri Lankan President Premadasa. He ordered Indian Army to leave Sri Lanka. He even ordered Sri Lankan Army to supply arms and cash to LTTE to fight Indian Soldiers.


After showing huge resistance to Indian Army Prabhakaran and his commanders successfully remained 2 steps ahead of IPKF in the Wanni jungles.

Image: Prabhakaran with Gadaffi at an undisclosed location in the forest.

People’s Front of Liberation Tigers (PFLT): A political party was launched by LTTE. Mahattaya was made its president while Yogi become its first secretary.

Image: From left Mahattaya , Prabhakaran and Yogi.

November, 27: 1st Maveerar Naal:

Image: Prabhakaran giving his first Maveerar Naal speech

Prabhakaran was highly impressed by his LTTE commanders and cadres. They had survived 2 years of onslaught by World’s third largest army. So he decided to observe first maveerar naal or Heroes Day to commemorate the fallen Tamil Tigers.

27th November the date on which LTTE lost its first fighter Lt. Shankar was chosen as Heroes Day. Till then LTTE had lost 1307 cadres. Hundreds of LTTE fighters gathered at a secret location in the forest to observe first Heroes Day.

Till then Lt.Shankar’s death(1982) was not made public by LTTE. Prabhakaran did this to prevent exposing Shankar’s family and other LTTE sympathisers to Government forces.

Famous speech: Prabhakaran gave his first Maveerar Day speech and said whoever betrays Tamil Eelam must be killed. He went on saying that in future if he betrays or surrender to enemies his comrades must shoot him at his back.

EELAM WAR 2 (1990–1995)


IPKF left:

Once Indian soldiers left Sri Lanka LTTE got control of huge areas in the North and east

Image: IPKF soldiers leaving Sri Lanka in 1990.

Jaffna: Young Tamil Tigers on a patrolling vehicle. LTTE recaptured large areas once IPKF left the island.

October 15–30, Expulsion of Muslims: Tensions grew between LTTE and Muslims in the east. Muslim cadres left LTTE and became Government informants. They refused to follow LTTE rules. Sri Lankan Government used this issue in their favour and deployed Muslim homeguards who massacred Tamil civilians.

Col.Karikalan, the eastern LTTE commander persuaded Prabhakaran to expel Muslims from LTTE controlled areas. So LTTE expelled around 70,000 to 75,000 Muslims from the Northern districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi,Mannar, Mullaitivu, etc.


Assassinated Rajiv Gandhi: Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assasinated by a suicide bomber.

Image: Rajiv Gandhi minutes before his death.

Except the confessions of the accused/convicts no evidence was found which can connect LTTE with the assassination. Till end LTTE never accepted it directly.

July-Aug, First Battle of Elephant Pass:

LTTE launched a deadly attack on the Elephant Pass base. It was the main point linking Jaffna Peninsula with the mainland. LTTE used several armored vehicles with guns on top and plenty of ammunitions inside.

Image: LTTE Bulldozer at the war memorial used during first battle of Elephant pass.

During the battle LTTE was able to surround the base for several days. But they had to retreat because heavy reinforcements reached the base after 18 days.

LTTE commanders Balraj and Soosai guarding a portion of Elephant Pass base temporarily captured by them.


January 16, Kittu suicide:

Image: Kittu former LTTE commander.

Image: Prabhakaran consoling Kittu’s mother.

Kittu and nine other LTTE cadres committed suicide when Indian Navy forced them to surrender. They were travelling on a LTTE ship on international waters miles away from Indian maritime border.

Kittu was Prabhakaran’s childhood friend. He was the overall military commander of LTTE during the First Eelam War. When Prabhakaran was busy in peace talks in India Kittu served as LTTE chief until 1987.

May 1, Sri Lankan President assassinated:

LTTE suicide bomber assassinated then President of Sri Lanka Mr.Premadasa on May day function.

Image: Funeral procession of President Premadasa in 1993.

Nov, Operation Frog/ Battle of Pooneryn: LTTE ran over a Sri Lankan naval base at Pooneryn.

Mahattaya arrested: Deputy LTTE chief Mahattaya was taken into custody by LTTE. He was leaking information to India’s RAW.

Image: Prabhakaran (c) and Mahattaya (2nd from right) with Tamil Nadu politicians.


Image: LTTE rebels patrolling the outskirts of Jaffna.

December, Mahattaya executed: After Mahattaya confessed his crime he was executed. Along with him nearly 250 LTTE cadres who were loyal to him were also executed.


Female Tigers guarding a house at Jaffna.


Battle of Jaffna: LTTE lost Jaffna, Army expelled LTTE from Jaffna. Col.Theepan was the last LTTE commander to leave Jaffna. He and his troops escaped with the help of Sea tigers.

Sri Lanka claimed that LTTE had been eliminated completely. But LTTE spent this time in jungle to regroup, train and increase their ammunition stocks.


EELAM WAR 3 (1996–2001):

LTTE had grown in size and were became deadly force. They had 3 operations codenamed Unceasing Waves to capture important Army bases.

Operation Unceasing Waves I : To capture Mullaitivu

Operation Unceasing Waves II : To capture Kilinochchi

Operation Unceasing Waves III : To capture Elephant Pass.


Operation Unceasing Waves I/ Battle of Mullaitivu : LTTE launched a deadly attack on Mullaitivu base. Sea Tigers used its full strength and soon huge fights began both on land and sea.

It was the last base of Army in the Mullaitivu region. So when Army abandoned the base LTTE took control of the whole Mullaitivu district.

Image: Tamil Tigers removing one of the artillery guns from the Army base. LTTE got away with several artillery pieces and huge stocks of ammunition.


September , Operation Unceasing Waves II/ Battle of Kilinochchi:

Image: Brig.Balraj preparing his fighters for the Battle of Kilinochchi.

Image: LTTE cadres entering Kilinochchi on 29th September 1998.

LTTE successfully expelled Sri Lankan Army from the town of Kilinocchi. Later the town of Kilinochchi become LTTE’s headquarter.


Operation Unceasing Waves III/Second Battle of Elephant Pass:

The victory at the Elephant Pass was the most famous in the history of LTTE’s history. They had achieved an impossible mission.

LTTE surrounded the largest Military Garrison and cut off it from outside supplies.

Image: Brig.Balraj preparing his troops for Operation Unceasing Waves 3.

Image: Balraj travels through sea and landed behind enemy lines.

Image: Brigadier Balraj on his way to the A9 highway through the lagoon.For next 30+ days he fought behind enemy lines.


Sea Tigers secretly transported LTTE commander Balraj with 1200 cadres through sea behind enemy lines.

At that time LTTE troops were surrounded by 40,000 Sri Lankan Soldiers, Air Force, etc. He fought 30+ days without any outside help and blocked the A9 Highway until the fall of Iyakachchi( front base) and then Elephant Pass(main base). This came as a surprise to many experts as US military experts had predicted that Elephant Pass was impregnable.

Few thousand Tamil Tigers defeated 17,500 Soldiers and forced them to abandon their largest garrison.

After this victory LTTE were highly motivated and very ambitious about recapturing Jaffna(last main base of Army) and free whole Tamil Eelam from Government forces.


July, Black Tigers raided Bandaranaike International Airport and created a loss of $350 Million to the Government. They destroyed several military and civil air crafts.

One of the destroyed Aircrafts at the Bandaranaike Airport.

This attack was perfectly planned with high level training. They successfully raided the Airport and made sure no passenger or foreign national hurt.

September 26, Assassination of Col.Shankar:

Col. Shankar was one of the few original members of LTTE. He was with Prabhakaran from the early days of Eelam struggle.

He was also the founder of important wings of LTTE :

Sea Tigers
Anti-Aircraft Unit
Frogmen of Sea Tigers

Image: Prabhakaran and Shankar (2nd from right ) inspecting powered gliders with LTTE test pilots at Iranamadu air-strip in early 1990s.



The evergrowing military power of LTTE and their victories over Government forces brought Sri Lankan Government to the negotiation table. In 2002 LTTE signed the ceasefire and finally peace returned to Sri Lanka after a long time.

Image: Prabhakaran signing the historical ceasefire.

Image: LTTE leaders (from right) Prabhakaran, Balasingham, Tamilseivan and Gaddafi at a rare press meet at Kilinochchi.

August 25, Death of Col.Raju: He was in charge of LTTE’S Engineering Corps. He also helped LTTE develop its artilley and armored unit.

His important contributions:

Artilley and armored Units formation
Engineering Corps
Leopard Commandos(LTTE’s special Commandos)

Col.Raju, LTTE’s chief engineer and commander of leopard Commandos.


March 3 – April 11, split: Eastern LTTE chief Karuna Amman announced split with Prabhakaran. He decided to run a separate militant group in eastern Sri Lanka. But mainstream LTTE brutally neutralized Karuna forces.

Without any choice Karuna joined hands with Government. His betrayal came as a shock to LTTE. His announcement made LTTE lose 4000–5000(approx.) well trained fighters.

Image: Cadres(ex-LTTE) of the breakaway KARUNA faction.

Within few days Prabhakaran forces neutralized Karuna forces. Just like he betrayed Prabhakaran he was betrayed by his own commander Col.Ramanan.

Image: Col.Ramanan one of the few LTTE commanders who remained loyal to Prabhakaran when most of the eastern commanders betrayed LTTE and joined Karuna.

Ramanan not only helped Prabhakaran defeat Karuna forces but also helped LTTE track down eastern LTTE cadres who returned to normal life after the split. Many such cadres were identified and were brought back to LTTE .

December 26, Tsunami:

Image: Damaged vehicles(above) and Train left by Tsunami waves.


Image: LTTE doctor treating a civilian at one of the medical camps conducted by LTTE at Vavuniya in June 2005.


Tensions grew between LTTE and Sri Lankan Government with both sides often violating ceasefire agreement.

Tensions grew around important FDLs:

Image:LTTE’s Col.Veeramani patrolling Tirunelveli FDL.

Image: Local Tamil civilians taking food items for the LTTE cadres who were deployed in the Tirunelveli FDL in June 2006.

EELAM WAR 4 (2006–2009):

Fights resumes:

Image: LTTE cadres taking oath before leaving to FDL at Muhamalai.

Image: Tamil Tigers leaving for forward defence lines(FDL) at Muhamalai 2006.

May , EU blacklisted LTTE: Main reasons for banning LTTE:

LTTE intentionally avoided attending several peace talks meetings.

Assassination of Lakshman Kadirgamar, minister of foreign affairs of Sri Lanka in 2005 by alleged LTTE sniper. But LTTE denied their involvement. No evidence was found against LTTE.
Suicide attack on top military commander Sarath Fonseka in 2006. He survived the attack.

July, Closing of sluice gate at Mavil aru:

Image: LTTE closed the sluice gates of Mavil Aru which was supplying water to a region inside Government controlled area.

August 14, Senchcholai Bombing:

Image: Sri Lankan Air-Force dropped 16 bombs on a Senchcholai Orphanage home and killed 61 people including 55 school girls and injured 129 others.

December 14, Anton Balasingham passed away.

The only man who could speak against Prabhakaran was gone. He was a true and loyal friend to Prabhakaran. Now Prabhakaran was left with some headless people who misled him about the changes in International politics.


October 22, Anuradhapuram Air-Force base attack: Sri Lankan Air-Force frequently bombed Tamil civilian areas. As the civilian casualties increased Prabhakaran warned Sri Lankan Government to stop it or face consequences. But Air-Force ignored it. As a result Prabhakaran ordered his black tiger squad and air tiger to simultaneously launch attack on the Anuradhapuram Air Base.

Image: 21 team black-tigers team before leaving for the mission.

Image: Air-Tigers on their maiden public raid to support on ground Black Tigers team.

One of the destroyed choppers during the LTTE raid.

Image: Hundreds of Civilians gathered to pay homage to the 21 Black tigers of Anuradhapuram Raid 2007 in Kilinochchi.


Proved to be one of the most tragic years for LTTE because it lost two of their key commanders.

5th January: Col. Charles was killed. He was the chief of LTTE’s military intelligence wing.

His vehicle hit claymore mine placed by Deep penetration Unit . He was the main person behind Black Tigers’ success.

During 1990s he was sent to South to create secret LTTE base to carry out attacks in the government controlled areas. He was personally involved in many suicide attacks and high profile assassinations. He was one of the few LTTE commanders who were able to stay in Colombo frequently without any suspicions. Later when his presence was known to the Government he changed his base from South to East and launched attacks on Government controlled areas.

Image: Col.Charles.

He played a vital role in infiltrating LTTE agents in Sri Lankan Army and Police. After his death Black Tigers became just a shadow of their glorious past. They lost the accuracy and failed in many of their last attacks.

Image: Tamil Tigers guarding Forward Defence Line at Mannar, May 2008.

21st May:

Brigadier Balraj died of heart attack.

Brigadier Balraj was deputy chief of LTTE’s infantry. He was also the most successful LTTE commander.

He was involved in many successful military operations of LTTE. He was the main person behind LTTE’s famous victory in Battle of Elephant Pass 2000. He was well known for his psychological warfare. After his death LTTE failed to win any significant battle and eventually vanished exactly one year after his death.

Even Army commanders considered Balraj’s death as one of the main reasons for the military defeat of LTTE.

Image: Balraj’s funeral procession.

July 5, Last Day:

Image: Prabhakaran lighting the oil lamp during the Black Tigers Day 2008 which turns out to be the last such event.

Fights intensifies towards the end of 2008 : 

Image: LTTE team at a front defensive line at Vannerikulam in September 2008.

Image: August 2008 New front defensive line.

Image: LTTE cadres giving stiff resistance to the advancing Army at Akkarayan FDL, October 2008.


Prabhakaran lighting the “Lamp of sacrifice” for the last time. It become the last Heroes Day of LTTE. They had lost 22,390 cadres till then.


January, Battle of Kilinochchi: LTTE lost Kilinochchi their headquarter/ capital to the army.

March-April: Last major battle of the Civil War Battle of Ananthapuram took place. Army destroyed most of the military units of LTTE .Tamil Tigers lost most of their top commanders. Some of them:


After the death of Brigadier Balraj Col.Theepan became the de-facto deputy chief of LTTE’s military. During the final days of the Civil war he was made the overall military commander of LTTE’s Northern frontier.

He refused to leave his troops behind and killed in the final days of Battle of Ananthapuram. His death was a huge blow to LTTE.

Col.Gaddafi aka Aathavan:

Gaddafi was one of the senior commanders of LTTE. He was Prabhakaran’s bodyguard from 1980s to 2005. When Imran Pandian Regiment was formed in 1992 he become its special commander until 2005.

He was one of the 10 LTTE cadres who were trained by India(RAW) to use Anti-aircraft missiles. He become a specialist in using SAM7 missiles and shot down several Sri Lankan Air-Force planes. He was also killed in the battle.

Image: Prabhakaran’s bodyguard Gaddafi (extreme left) during LTTE chief’s famous speech at Suthumalai in 1987.

May 2009, Final battle:

LTTE fighters along with thousands of civilians were trapped in a small area. Surrendering LTTE commanders and cadres were shot and killed mercilessly.

Nobody(except Army) know how Prabhakaran died and what happened to his wife and daughter.As pber UN study 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the last month alone by Army shelling and air-bombardment.

Daring Col.Ram:

Even after the defeat of LTTE in May 2009, Col.Ram, LTTE’s Amaparai district commander was able to hold his ground in Eastern province. With around 50+ Eastern LTTE cadres he launched minor guerilla attacks on Army for several weeks. Later he too surrendered to Army. At the time of surrender he was the highest ranked LTTE commander alive.

Demise of LTTE and end of the Civil War 2009:

New LTTE chief K.P.(Kumara Pathmanathan) announced that LTTE had decided to silence their guns. Thus brought the 3 decade long civil war to an end.

Image: KP (c) with Prabhakaran, Balasingham and Shankar.


Prabhakaran and Tamil Tigers had long gone but they had left a legacy behind them.

Every year from 1989 to 2008 on 27th November LTTE used to observe Heroes Day.

Image: Prabhakaran paying homage to Lt. Shankar and other fallen LTTE fighters during a Heroes Day.

Image: A woman looking at the photo of her daughter who was a member of Black Tiger squad of LTTE.

Image: Family members of fallen Tamil Tigers gathered at one of the LTTE cemetries to observe the Heroes Day.

Image: This year( 2016) also hundreds of Eelam Tamils gathered to observe Maveerar Naal at London

Every year on 27th November Maveerar Naal or Remembrance Day is observed by thousands of Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in Sri Lanka, USA, Canada, India , Australia and several European countries…

Gopal R,
Updated May 30, 2017 · Author has 460 answers and 1m answer views

Image source: Google images

Comment :Sureshrao S, Lead Engineer – Site Project Controls at Construction –

LTTE – Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(Ezham), தமிழ் ஈழ விடுதலை புலிகள் – Tamil Ezha viduthalai Puligal

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was one of the many groups that came into existence to fight for Tamil rights. Finally became sole representative of Tamils in terms of Armed Military. It also had Political wing, Their own police, Defacto Tamil state, etc. and are freedom fighters of Ceylon Tamils.

When LTTE is formed??

Formed in 1975 with its base in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka, the group vowed to form a separate state called Tamil Eelam

Why LTTE is formed?

It all began when Sinhalese government put restriction on the entry of qualified Tamils into higher studies. Tamils Not given equal opportunities in Government services, Not given equal rights in society, Compelled to learn Sinhalese and Sinhalese don’t need to learn Tamil etc. after getting independence from British in February 4, 1948.

Fighting for their equal rights politically for more than 20 years, Most of Tamils decided to start armed struggle to get their Rights in 1975.

What is the Aim of LTTE??

They are freedom fighters of Tamils and their wish is to have separate homeland for Tamils in Lanka since Sinhalese government didn’t give them equal rights and opportunities under them.

Till date even after the military defeat of LTTE in 2009, Tamils are not given equal rights in Lankan constitution. This itself will explain the true face of a Sinhalese.

Most of the people who don’t know the history will tell them Terrorists. It is a political game played by Sinhalese government by propaganda.

Now why even India is not pushing for political settlement between Tamils and Sinhalese after military defeat of LTTE is a million dollar question??