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Monday, 4 September, 2000, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Timeline of the Tamil conflict
Early years

  • 1972: Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran forms the Tamil New Tigers (TNT) which four years later becomes the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

  • 23 July 1983: LTTE ambush army patrol in Jaffna killing 13 soldiers sparking an anti-Tamil pogrom in which an estimated 600 people die.

  • 1983-84: Despite denials, India begins arming and training guerrillas from five major Tamil militant groups. Prabhakaran moves to the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

  • 14 May 1985: LTTE guns down 146 Sinhalese civilians at Anuradhapura, a holy Buddhist site.

  • 8 July 1985:-First attempt at peace talks between the government and the LTTE in Bhutan fails.

  • 21 April 1987: Bomb blast in Colombo kills more than 100 people.

  • 29 July 1987: India and Sri Lanka sign pact to end Tamil separatism.

  • 10 October 1987: LTTE resumes separatist war taking on Indian troops.


  • 23 February 1990: Premadasa government begins second attempt at peace talks with the LTTE.

  • 24 March 1990: Indian troops go home. LTTE controls large areas of northern Sri Lanka.

  • 10 June 1990: LTTE resumes separatist war, ending 14 months of peace talks.

  • 21 May 1991: Former Indian premier Rajiv Gandhi blown up - allegedly by an LTTE suicide bomber.

  • 16 November 1992: Sri Lankan navy commander Clancy Fernando blown up by LTTE suicide bomber.

  • 1 May 1993: President Ranasinghe Premadasa killed by LTTE bomb.

  • 16 August 1994: President Kumaratunge's government comes to power promising an end to the war through talks.

  • 13 October 1994: Third round of peace talks begin between the government and LTTE.

  • 24 October 1994: Main opposition presidential candidate Gamini Dissanayake assassinated by LTTE.

  • 19 April 1995: LTTE resumes separatist drive after six months of talks by bombing two navy boats.

  • 2 December 1995: Jaffna falls to Sri Lankan army.


  • 31 January 1996: Tigers ram a truck loaded with explosives into the Central Bank in Colombo killing 91 people.

  • 18 July 1996: Tigers overrun army camp in north-eastern town of Mullaitivu killing 1 200 troopers.

  • 24 July 1996: Tigers bomb a commuter train near the capital killing 70 people and wounding 600.

  • 13 May 1997: The army launches its biggest ground offensive code-named Sure Victory to capture the Vavuniya-Jaffna highway. .

  • 25 January 1998: The LTTE stages a daring suicide bombing and devastates Sri Lanka's holiest Buddhist shrine the Temple of the Tooth killing 13 people.

  • 29 January 1998: First local elections in Jaffna since 1983 fail to provide a viable political process.

  • 5 March 1998: Bus bomb explosion in Colombo claims over 30 dead

  • 17 May 1998: Tamil Tigers blamed for the assassination of the mayor of Jaffna a member of the pro-government Tamil United Liberation Front.

  • 6 August 1998: The Sri Lankan government imposes nationwide state of emergency "in the interests of public security".

  • 6 September 1998: Tigers offer to restart peace talks on condition of third party mediation. The government rejects the offer.

  • 30 September 1998: The Sri Lankan army loses at least 600 men as it tries to hold on to the key town of Kilinochchi in the face of a major Tamil Tiger offensive.
    900 dead in battle for key town

  • 5 December 1998: More than 11,000 people flee the Oddusudan area captured by the army, according to Tamil Tiger guerrillas.
    Thousands flee Sri Lanka fighting


  • 7 March 1999: Sri Lankan soldiers capture a large area of territory in the Wanni district in the north of the country, the defence ministry in Colombo says.
    Sri Lanka army 'captures rebel area'

  • 29 July 1999: Moderate Tamil MP Neelan Thiruchelvan - a key figure in a government-sponsored peace efforts - is killed by a suicide bomber.
    Sri Lanka: Tamil politician assassinated

  • 13 September 1999: The Sri Lankan military admits to high casualties in its latest offensive in the north of the country against Tamil Tiger rebels.
    High casualties in Sri Lankan offensive

  • 16 September 1999: An aid agency in Sri Lanka says the air force has bombed a civilian area in the north-east of the country, killing 21 people.
    Sri Lanka air raid kills 21

  • 18 September 1999: Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels - many of them women - attack three villages, killing at least 50 people.
    Sri Lanka rebels kill 50

  • 15 October 1999: The Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence says the army has killed more than 100 Tamil Tiger separatists during a confrontation in the north of the island.
    'Scores dead' in Sri Lanka fighting

  • 18 October 1999: The President of Sri Lanka, Chandrika Kumaratunga, rules out peace talks with the rebel Tamil Tigers for the time being.
    No peace talks with Tamil Tigers

  • 2 November 1999: The Tigers say they have captured the strategically important town of Oddusudan after an offensive operation, supported by artillery.
    Tamil raid cripples military

  • 18 December 1999: At least 15 people are killed in two bomb blasts at election rallies in Colombo, with President Chandrika Kumaratunga receiving minor injuries in one of the blasts.
    Blasts rock Sri Lankan rallies
    Violence sets poll agenda


  • 5 January 2000: An explosion outside the Sri Lankan prime minister's office in Colombo kills 13 people and injures up to 28.
    Suicide bomb kills 13

  • 27 January 2000: A powerful bomb rips through the main post office in the northern Sri Lankan town of Vavuniya, leaving many casualties.
    Bomb blast hits northern town

  • 1 February 2000: The Norwegian Government will play an intermediary role in putting a new peace package before Tamil Tiger rebels.
    Norway role in Sri Lanka peace plan

  • 23 April 2000: The Sri Lankan Government says Tamil Tiger rebels have taken control of the key Elephant Pass military base on the northern Jaffna peninsula.
    Rebels take Sri Lanka army base

  • 4 May 2000: The Sri Lankan Government assumes new powers and puts the country on a war footing.
    Sri Lankan on war footing

  • 8 May 2000: President Kumaratunga turns down a Tamil Tiger truce offer to enable troops to evacuate from Jaffna.
    Sri Lanka rejects truce offer

  • 11 May 2000: Sri Lanka tightens censorship by banning live broadcasts of all television and radio programmes.
    Sri Lanka tightens media gag

  • 17 May 2000: More than 20 people are killed and 75 injured in a bomb explosion in the eastern town of Batticaloa.
    Bomb blast in Sri Lanka

  • 7 June 2000: A senior Sri Lankan Minister, CV Goonaratne, is assassinated and 20 others killed by a suicide bomber in Colombo.
    Bomb kills Sri Lankan minister

  • 30 June 2000:Sri Lanka's Supreme Court rules the government acted illegally in imposing media censorship in the country.
    Sri Lanka censorship struck down

  • 6 July 2000:The Tamil Tigers lose more than 30 fighters during a government offensive in the north.
    Tamil Tigers suffer losses

  • 27 July 2000:The International Red Cross in Sri Lanka secures an agreement to enable the movement of civilians in the northern war zone.
    Safe passage for Jaffna civilians

  • 8 August 2000:The Sri Lankan Government postpones a parliamentary vote on a crucial reform bill aimed at ending the civil war.
    Setback for Sri Lanka peace hopes

  • 18 August 2000:The Sri Lankan parliament is dissolved and general elections announced for 10 October.
    Sri Lanka sets election date

  • 4 September 2000:Seventy-one government soldiers are killed and more than 200 others wounded in a major new offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels in the Jaffna peninsula.
    Heavy casualties in Jaffna offensive

  • Peace efforts




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