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Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels admitted defeat today after a final flurry of suicide attacks on the government forces which have surrounded them in a tiny patch of coconut grove on the northeastern coast.
The Tigers’ surrender -– after 26 years of fighting for an ethnic Tamil homeland -- was announced in a statement by Selvarasa Pathmanathan, their chief of international relations, on the pro-rebel Tamilnet web site.
Military: Troops kill 3 Tamil Tigers leaders
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CNN) -- The Sri Lankan military said Monday that they killed three top leaders of the Tamil Tigers and the son of the rebel group's founder.
CNN was unable to confirm the account because of safety and access reasons.
The deaths were the result of continuing armed encounters with the last remnants of the rebel group, who are now cornered in a small stretch of land in the country's north, according to the military.
The offensive against the rebel group is in its last stages, the Sri Lankan government has said.
The rebels said Sunday that they have decided to "silence our guns." If they follow through, the action will potentially mark the end of a bloody civil war that has lasted 25 years and killed as many as 70,000 people.
While authorities said they have killed Charles Anthony, the son of the group's founder, there has been no word on the whereabouts of the man himself, Vellupillai Prabhakaran.
The leader of the Tamil Tigers has been shot dead while trying to flee government troops, according to a Sri Lankan defence official.
Velupillai Prabhakaran, 54, was reportedly trying to escape from the area in an ambulance with two close aides but was ambushed and killed.
"It was confirmed Prabhakaran was killed when trying to flee in an ambulance before dawn," the military source said on condition of anonymity.
"We are waiting for the official announcement by the president."
Four others sources confirmed the account but there has been no official comment from the military.
State TV also broadcast what it said were images of the corpse of Prabhakaran's son and heir apparent, Charles Anthony, for the first time.
Over the weekend, the Tamil Tigers announced they were laying down their arms after a 26-year fight for an independent homeland.
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 Sri Lankans gathered to protest outside the British High Commission in Colombo.
Some threw rocks, breaking windows as others hurled a burning effigy of Britain's foreign secretary David Miliband over the compound's wall.
Mr Miliband has been critical of the Sri Lankan government's prosecution of the war and Britain has backed calls for a war crimes probe.