Timeline: Sri Lanka’s civil war

Sri Lanka votes for a new president on Thursday in an election that centers on two key issues: how to forge lasting peace with the Tamil Tiger rebels and how to bolster the island’s economy.

Tight security has surrounded the election campaign

The following is a chronology of key incidents in Sri Lanka‘s civil war, in which over 64,000 people have been killed since it erupted after an anti-Tamil riot in 1983.




India trains and funds Tamil groups, including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), fighting for a separate Tamil state in the island’s north and east.




July – India and Sri Lanka sign pact creating regional councils to give Tamils in the northeast limited autonomy.


Indian troops arrive to enforce the pact that was endorsed by the LTTE and other Tamil rebel groups. Indian presence eventually grows to more than 100,000.


October – The LTTE reneges on the accord and begins three years of battles that kill more than 1,000 Indian troops.




December – Ranasinghe Premadasa is elected president after promising to send Indian troops home and begin talks with LTTE.




June – Talks fail as LTTE overruns police stations in east.




May – Suspected Tiger suicide bomber kills former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.




May – Premadasa is killed by a LTTE suicide bomber.




November – Chandrika Kumaratunga elected president.




Jan – Government of President Kumaratunga and rebels agree to stop fighting and talk.


April – Truce ends when rebels blow up two navy vessels.




January – Tiger suicide bombers blow up central bank building, killing more than 100 and wounding about 1,400.




Oct – United States declares LTTE a terrorist group. LTTE bombs World Trade Centre in Colombo, killing 15.




January – Sri Lanka outlaws the LTTE after suicide attack on country’s holiest Buddhist shrine, the Temple of the Tooth.




Dec – Kumaratunga survives LTTE suicide bomb attack, loses one eye, spurring a sympathy vote analysts say helped her win reelection two days later.




May – Erik Solheim, Norway‘s special envoy for peace, begins talks with Sri Lankan leaders.




February – Government and LTTE sign Norwegian-brokered ceasefire, laying groundwork for direct peace talks.


September – First round of direct peace talks held in Thailand.


December – Tigers give up demand for a separate state and agree to work with government toward devolution of power.




April – Tigers pull out after six rounds of talks, saying not enough done to rebuild war-hit Tamil areas.




Feb – Kumaratunga dissolves parliament and calls snap election.


April – Kumaratunga’s coalition wins election.




August – Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar assassinated by suspected rebel snipers.


Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court rules Kumaratunga’s term must end in 2005, a year earlier than she hoped, paving the way for a November 17 election.


Source: Reuters

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