Sri Lanka Rebel Reemerges, Speaks

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KILINOCHCHI, Sri Lanka?The Tamil Tiger chief, one of South Asia’s most-wanted men, made his first public appearance in 15 years on Wednesday, emerging from a jungle hide out to say he will not yet abandon the fight for an independent state.

“The struggle for political independence is the demand of Tamil people,” said the reclusive rebel leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Still, he insisted his Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are “sincerely and seriously committed to peace,” as demonstrated by their declared cease-fire in the 18-year-old separatist war.

Prabhakaran’s Tamil Tigers have been fighting government forces since 1983 to create a separate homeland in northern and eastern Sri Lanka. The civil war, one of Asia’s longest, has cost more than 64,000 lives.

The group is banned as terrorists in the United States.