'Two of us fled. 75 other women killed themselves with grenades,' says Tamil Tiger

Article Date: 
12 Apr 2009

By the time Arulmathy and her fellow Tamil Tigers realised they were surrounded, it was too late. They had fallen asleep and now Sri Lankan soldiers were swarming into their bunker. Arulmathy watched aghast as 75 women she had fought beside for so many months reached for their hand grenades, pulled the pins and blew themselves to pieces, as they had been ordered to do.

But Arulmathy had had enough of the Tigers' war. She had no wish to die for a cause in which she no longer believed. As the grenades detonated, she slipped into a supply trench and ran for her life. In January, as the Sri Lankan army intensified its campaign against the dwindling rebel force, she surrendered.

Trapped inside a tiny coastal strip no larger than 20 sq km, the last fighters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are almost out of time. Since the start of the year, the Sri Lankan military has stepped up its campaign. Outgunned, they have fallen back to an area designated a "no-fire zone", where civilians were told to gather to escape the fighting. In the past week, more than 500 rebel fighters were reported killed.

Alongside the LTTE fighters are tens of thousands of civilians, unwilling or unable to leave. The Sri Lankan government says they are being used as human shields, and independent humanitarian workers say there is no doubt that many who tried to escape have been shot by the Tigers. One UN worker described how a five-year-old boy was shot in the head as he tried to flee. Yesterday Sri Lankan forces claimed to have made further advances, killing 28 rebel fighters in fresh fighting on the edge of the no-fire zone. The military said 606 civilians managed to escape from the zone on Friday and the operation was continuing.

Article Author: 
Gethin Chamberlain
Article Source: 
The Guardian