The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Tamil: தமிழீழவிடுதலைப்புலிகள், ISO 15919: tamiḻ iiḻa viṭutalaip pulikaḷ; commonly known as the LTTE or the Tamil Tigers) is a militant organization based in northern Sri Lanka. Founded in 1976, it has since actively waged a violent secessionist campaign that seeks to create an independent Tamil state in the north and east of Sri Lanka. This campaign has evolved into the Sri Lankan Civil War, one of longest running armed conflicts in Asia. Since its formation, the LTTE has been headed by its founder, Velupillai Prabhakaran.
The Tamil Tigers are currently proscribed as a terrorist organization by 32 countries (see list of countries). They have a well-developed militia cadre, and are notorious for commiting atrocities against civilians, for carrying out high profile attacks, including the assassinations of several high ranking Sri Lankan and Indian politicians, and for recruiting child soldiers. The LTTE invented the suicide belt and perfected suicide bombing as a tactic. They also pioneered the use of women in suicide attacks. The LTTE has carried out more suicide bombings than Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and al-Qaeda combined. The LTTE are the only rebel organization known to have possessed aircraft.
Over the course of the conflict, the Tamil Tigers have frequently taken control of territory in north-east Sri Lanka, engaging in fierce confrontations with the Sri Lankan military in the process. They have also been involved in peace talks to end the conflict four separate times, each time unsuccessfully, and at the start of the latest round of peace talks in 2002 they ran a virtual mini-state in areas under their control. However after the breakdown of the talks in 2006, the Sri Lankan military launched a major offensive against the Tamil Tigers, bringing a vast area under their control and limiting the Tigers to a 55 km2 area in the Mullaithivu District.
As a result of this offensive, there is...