A major happening in Sri Lanka’s endless brutal civil war:

Sri Lankan forces captured the Tamil Tigers’ de facto capital Friday, winning a major victory in their decades-long battle to destroy the rebels and crush their dream of establishing an independent state for minority Tamils.

The rebels swiftly sent the message that they would fight on, exploding a suicide bomb near air force headquarters in Colombo that killed three airmen and injured 37 other people, authorities said.

The civil war between the two sides has killed at least 70,000 people and plagued this Indian Ocean island nation off and on for 25 years. A 2002 cease-fire collapsed in new fighting three years ago, and government forces have pushed deep into the rebels’ heartland in the jungles of the north in recent months.

The largely Buddhist Sinhalese majority makes up about three quarters of Sri Lanka’s population. The largely Hindu Tamils make up about 20% of the population.

2009: a new year of war.

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