The Beginning, the fall of Elephant Pass
Situation took a turn when the new Lanka President Rajapakse ordered an all out assault in 2008. Prabhakaran failed to realize the gravity of the situation and the Sri Lanka Army captured Paranthan. This further led to the capture of Kilinochchi and the Elephant pass. The loss of these areas which had strategic importance however did not dent the confidence of Prabhakaran and now, one can see that he was a poor general. At that stage he allowed the battle to continue and evacuated his cadre further east
The matter did not end there andfew days later he lost control of the significant Jaffna-Kandy road also referred to as the A-9 highway. However despite losing areas west of the road, he was still confident that the LTTE will be able to hold the Lankan Army from advancing further in the East.
But his confidence in his cadres was misplaced and in a series of battles the Lankan army began to make inroads in the east. At that time he should have realized the deadly advance of the Lankan army was without compunction and they took no prisoners and summarily shot any LTTE cadres or soldiers, even if they surrendered. General Fonseka the army commander had put into position two highly trained and armed divisions along with artillery.
Another factor was the support of Pakistan and China to Sri Lanka. Topping this was the passive support of India after the killing of Rajiv Gandhi. Not many know that the Indian Navy was patrolling the sea to prevent any supplies reaching Prabhakaran and also passing information to Sri Lanka about the where about of Prabhakaran, who had been dubbed a terrorist by India.
Major Mistakes of Prabhakaran
At this stage Prabhakaran committed 3 grave mistakes.
a) He miscalculated gravely the support of the Tamil Diaspora and fellow Tamils in Tamil Nadu. He assumed that the Tamils of India will be able to sway the Indian government to intervene and arrange a cease fire.
b) He assumed that the Western powers would put pressure on Lanka to avoid civil casualties and a cease fire would be arranged
c) He failed to read the iron resolve ofRajapakse. He thought with heavy causalities inflicted on the Lanka army, the President would call the battle off. But this did not happen.
Worse followed as at the battle at Anandapuram , over 600 Tamil tigers were killed including his northern force commander Colonel Theepan.
At this stage Prabhakaran point man abroad Pathmanathan approached the western powers which he had cultivated for years and a plan was being worked out for a cease fire cum surrender of some forces of Prabhakaran. The western powers were keen to help out to avoid civilian deaths in the battle.
The Lanka Army's Advance
But some how matters began to take time and the Sri Lanka army continued a relentless forward march despite suffering casualties. Heavy Artillery bombardment started. He also failed to agree to a peace proposal floated by the Indian government that called for him to renounce terrorist activities.
This was again a cardinal blunder. At that stage he could have tried to escape, but till the last he clung to the hope that the offensive would be called off.
However the Lankan army did not waste time and two divisions of their elite troops encircled Prabhakaran. The two divisions commanded by brigadier Shavendra Silva and Major general Kamal Gunaratne moved forward with a heavy artillery barrage. It is now known that thousands of unarmed civilians died in these artillery attacks.
Some LTTE cadre led by Natesan came out to surrender, but were all shot dead. In this fight the entire family of Prabhakaran was also killed.
Prabhakaran it appears with 18 Tamil tigers tried to flee but was shot dead. No accurate account of the death is available. He had a cyanide capsule, but he did not bite it. His elder son who was leading one wing of the LTTE was also killed.