Attrition: Sri Lankan Bloodbath Clarifies


December 4, 2009: The 26 year civil war in Sri Lanka ended earlier this year. Once the fighting stopped, more accurate information emerged on the casualties. The violence, and casualties, were greatest during the last three years of the conflict. During that period, over 80 percent of the deaths occurred. For the entire war, the security forces (police and military) suffered 23,790 dead. The rebels, the LTTE, apparently lost about the same. Civilian losses were estimated to be over 20,000. Since the war ended, there have been fewer than twenty deaths resulting from continued violence by the few remaining LTTE rebels on the island. The LTTE still exists, although most of the surviving leadership is now outside Sri Lanka, and trying to raise money for continued guerilla war and terror attacks. Police have aborted several terror attacks since May, and are preparing to keep after LTTE operatives for the foreseeable future.

Throughout the 1980s, the fighting was rather low key. Then, in the 1990s, the LTTE inflicted several major defeats on the army, including driving out an Indian peacekeeping force. LTTE suicide bombers killed a Sri Lankan prime minister, and a former Indian prime minister. By 2002, the LTTE had taken control of 14,000 square kilometers (22 percent of the island nation of Sri Lanka), and signed a ceasefire with the government.

Tamils comprised 13 percent of the 20 million people living on the island, and wanted to establish their own nation in the territory the LTTE controlled in the north and along the east coast. Non-Tamils were driven out of that LTTE territory and a separate government set up. Negotiations with the government failed because hard line LTTE leaders insisted on partition of the island. The government, and many moderate LTTE leaders were willing to allow greater autonomy, but not a separate state. This led, in 2004,  to a split in the LTTE, with the east coast faction making a deal with the government. Troops moved into the east coast to put down the few hard line LTTE fighters that remained there. Continued negotiations with the LTTE proved fruitless, as the hardliners still insisted on partition. The war resumed in 2006, and ended 34 months later in May, 2009.


Article Archive

Attrition: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close