Sri Lanka’s war

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The war, which lasted be­tween July 1983 and May 2009, was fought be­tween the army and the Lib­er­a­tion Tigers of Tamil Ee­lam (LTTE), a sep­a­ratist guer­rilla move­ment fight­ing for the north’s in­de­pen­dence. The LTTE rou­tinely de­ployed sui­cide at­tacks, at both mil­i­tary and civil­ian tar­gets.

The mainly-Hindu Tamil com­mu­nity, about 12 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion, faced dis­crim­i­na­tion af­ter Sri Lanka’s in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain in 1948. This in­cluded le­gal prece­dence for the Sin­halese lan­guage and Bud­dhist re­li­gion of the ma­jor­ity pop­u­la­tion, who now num­ber 75 per cent of the 20 mil­lion. About 10 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion are Tamil-speak­ing Mus­lims; 8 per cent are Tamil and Sin­halese-speak­ing Chris­tians, ac­cord­ing to the 2012 Cen­sus.

Af­ter the war ended in 2009, with a mil­i­tary of­fen­sive that de­stroyed most of the Tamil north, a UN re­port es­ti­mated there were up to 40,000 civil­ian deaths.

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