Sri Lanka Velupillai Prabhakaran bunker is destroyed

Some sites of visible Sri Lankan war damage remain open to the public

The Sri Lankan military has blown up one of the final places where the dead leader of the Tamil Tiger militants, Velupillai Prabhakaran, lived.

Since the end of the separatist war in 2009 the house and its deep bunker had become a tourist attraction for Sri Lankan visitors.

Now it has gone there will be questions about the fate of similar sites.

Mr Prabhakaran was the founder of the rebel group and led it for 25 years before its eventual defeat by the army.

The Tamil Tigers sought to create an independent Tamil state in the north and east of Sri Lanka and was designated a terrorist organisation by more than 30 countries.

Mr Prabhakaran was killed in May 2009 as the army captured the last area of rebel-held territory in northern Sri Lanka. It has been alleged that his 12-year-old son was executed a short time afterwards.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Sri Lanka says that on Thursday evening people living near the bunker - close to the site of the bloody final stage of the war - were asked to evacuate their homes.

They heard an explosion and saw ash rising from the former Tamil Tiger facility as the army blew it up.

The house in Mullaittivu district contained a bunker descending four storeys underground.

The camouflaged bunker was found by troops in a coconut grove in 2009. They said at the time that it served both as the main rebel hideout and a major residential site for Mr Prabhakaran.

It contained:

  • Sound-proof electricity generators, air conditioning and medical supplies
  • Surveillance cameras, satellite technology and numerous weapons
  • A shrine-like room with photos of dead Tamil Tiger members
  • A stuffed tiger, cognac and Mr Prabhakaran's personal correspondence

The army had been promoting the bunker as an internal tourist attraction, along with other rebel facilities nearby.

Velupillai Prabhakaran

A museum of the Tigers' war materiel including boats has even been opened, with signs in the majority Sinhala language, but not the local Tamil language.

A military spokesman told the BBC that tourism was only "a temporary phenomenon" at the bunker.

Now that the area had been de-mined he said that there was no reason "to keep the ghosts of terrorism".

However, the authorities may have been uneasy at the propaganda effect of the bunker, our correspondent says.

When the BBC visited it and other sites last year, some Sri Lankan tourists expressed some admiration for the Tigers' technical expertise.

Three years ago the government demolished Velupillai Prabhakaran's ancestral home and several Tamil Tiger graveyards.

An army division headquarters has been built on the site of at least one of the cemeteries.

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