Ontario Centre for Policy Research Voice for Accountability and Justice

Tamil LTTE Terrorism

Tamil LTTE Child Soldier 

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
Source: United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2016
Foreign Terrorist Organizations: Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), 19 July 2017.

 Ellalan Force; Tamil Tigers

Description: Founded in 1976 and designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is a Tamil secessionist group in Sri Lanka. Despite its military defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan government in 2009, the LTTE’s international network of sympathizers and financial support has persisted.

Activities: Although the LTTE has been largely inactive since its military defeat in 2009, in the past it was responsible for an integrated battlefield insurgent strategy that targeted key installations and senior Sri Lankan political and military leaders. In early 2009, Sri Lankan forces recaptured the LTTE’s key strongholds, including their capital of Kilinochchi. In May 2009, government forces defeated the last LTTE fighting forces, killed LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and other members of the LTTE leadership and military command, and declared military victory.

There have been no known attacks in Sri Lanka that could verifiably be attributed to the LTTE since the end of the war in 2009, but a total of 13 LTTE supporters, several of whom had allegedly planned attacks against U.S. and Israeli diplomatic facilities in India, were arrested in Malaysia in 2014.

Additional LTTE members were arrested in Malaysia and India in 2015, one of whom was accused of exhorting other Sri Lankans to fund and revive the LTTE.

Strength: Exact strength is unknown.

Location/Area of Operation: Primarily Sri Lanka and India and global presence.

Funding and External Aid: LTTE’s financial network of support continued after the LTTE’s military defeat in 2009; the group used its international contacts and the large Tamil diaspora in North America, Europe, and Asia to procure weapons, communications, funds, and other needed supplies. The group employed charities as fronts to collect and divert funds for its activities.

Tamil LTTE deadliest attacks against civilians targets 

Attack Date Location Death toll Sources
1990 massacre of Sri Lankan Police officers 11 June 1990 Eastern Province 600–774 [4][5]
Massacre of prisoners in Mulathivu Camp 1996 18 July 1996 Eastern Province 207 [6][7]
Kattankudy mosque massacre 3 August 1990 Kattankudy, Batticaloa District 147 [8]
Anuradhapura massacre 14 May 1985 Anuradhapura, Anuradhapura District 146 [9]
Habarana bus massacre 17 April 1987 Habarana, Anuradhapura District 127 [10]
October 1995 Eastern Sri Lanka massacres 16 October 1995 Eastern Province 120  
Central Bus Station Bombing 21 April 1987 Pettah, Colombo, Colombo District 113 [11]
Palliyagodella massacre 15 October 1991 Palliyagodella, Polonnaruwa District 109 [10][12]
2006 Digampathana bombing 16 October 2006 Digampathaha, Matale District 92–103 [13]
Central Bank bombing 31 January 1996 Colombo, Colombo District 91 [14]
Kebithigollewa massacre 15 June 2006 Kebithigollewa, Anuradhapura District 66 [15]
Dehiwala train bombing (1996) 24 July 1996 Dehiwala, Colombo District 64 [16]
Kent and Dollar Farm massacres 30 November 1984 Mullaitivu District 62 [17]
Lionair Flight 602 29 September 1998 off the coast of Mannar District 55 [18]
Gonagala massacre 18 September 1999 Gonagala, Ampara District 54 [19]
Assassination of Gamini Dissanayake Ossie Abeyagoonasekera 24 October 1994 Thotalanga, Colombo 52 [20][21]
Kallarawa massacre 25 May 1995 Kallarawa, Trincomalee District 42 [22]
Aranthalawa Massacre 2 July 1987 Aranthalawa, Ampara District 35 [23]
Assassination of C. V. Gunaratne 8 June 2000 Ratmalana, Colombo District 22 [24][25]
Air Lanka Flight 512 3 May 1986 Bandaranaike International Airport, Gampaha District 21 [26]
Havelock Road bombing/Assassination of Ranjan Wijeratne 2 March 1991 Havelock Road, Colombo 19 [27]
1998 Temple of the Tooth attack 25 January 1998 Temple of the Tooth, Kandy 17 [14][28][29]
Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi 21 May 1991 Sriperumbudur, Chennai, in Tamil Nadu, India 15 [30][31]
Assassination of Ranasinghe Premadasa 1 May 1993 Armour Street, Colombo 11 [32][33]
Kokilai massacre 1 December 1984 Kokilai, Mullaitivu District 11  
Gomarankadawala massacre 23 April 2006 Gomarankadawala, Trincomalee District 6 [34]
2009 suicide air raid on Colombo 20 February 2009 Colombo, Colombo District 2 [35]


  1.  Gunaratna, Rohan (2001-11-03). “Intelligence failures exposed by Tamil Tiger airport attack”Jane’s Information Group. Archived from the original on 2007-03-03. Retrieved 2007-04-27.
  2.  “Consular Information Sheet – Sri Lanka”Bureau of Consular Affairs. U.S. Department of State. 2007-04-11. Retrieved 2007-04-27.

  3.  Audrey Kurth Cronin; Huda Aden; Adam Frost & Benjamin Jones (2004-02-06). “CRS Report for Congress, Foreign Terrorist Organizations” (PDF)Bureau of Consular Affairs. The Library of Congress. Retrieved 2007-04-27.

  4.  “Recalling the saddest day in Lankan Police history”Lanka Newspapers. Lanka Newspapers. 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2011-06-12.

  5.  “Killing of 774 policemen”Rivira. Rivira. 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2011-06-12.

  6.  Quarter, Giving No By John Burns Archived 2008-12-31 at the Wayback Machine

  7.  Situation Report, By Iqbal Athas

  8.  Xinhua, 147 Muslims Massacred by Tamil “Tigers” in Sri Lanka, Colombo, August 4, 1990

  9.  “Timeline of the Tamil conflict”BBC News. 2000-09-04. Retrieved 2007-05-16.

  10.  Letter sent by the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the Centre for Human Rights, Government of Sri Lanka, 9 August 1994

  11.  LTTE Terrorist Attacks Selected Chronology (since 1987)

  12.  “1987: THE BUBBLE BURSTS, Chapter 6”UTHR(J). Retrieved 2006-12-31.

  13.  Luthra, Dumeetha (2006-10-16). “Analysis: Sri Lanka military setbacks”BBC. Retrieved 2006-11-04.

  14.   “Eleven die in Sri Lankan temple suicide bomb”BBC. 25 January 1998. Retrieved 8 April 2012.

  15.  “Military ‘killed Lanka aid staffBBC News. August 30, 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-30.

  16.  “Tamil Arrested in Sri Lanka Train Bombing”The New York Times. 1996-09-04.

  17.  “LTTE genocide at Kent and Dollar Farms” (PDF)Daily News. 29 May 2009. Retrieved 21 April 2012.

  18.  Criminal Occurrence description at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 21 April 2012.

  19.  Kamalendra, Chris (19 September 1999). “Pre-dawn horror in Ampara: 54 killed as LTTE unleashed terror on villagers”The Sunday Times. Retrieved 21 April 2012.

  20.  Latest Killing of a Sri Lanka Politician Fits a Familiar Pattern, The New York Times

  21.  Gamini Dissanayake, the last of men Archived 2015-06-26 at the Wayback Machine, Ceylon Today

  22.  Kamalendran, Chris (4 October 1998). “Lighting a candle in the storm”The Sunday Times. Retrieved 21 April 2012.

  23.  “LTTE’s gun culture continues”The Sunday Observer. 2007-06-03. Archived from the original on 2007-06-30. Retrieved 2007-06-06.

  24.  Sri Lanka suicide bomber kills 22, The Guardian

  25.  Disciplined and respected political culture soon Archived 2015-06-28 at the Wayback Machine, Daily News

  26.  “1986: Bomb kills 21 in Sri Lanka”BBC. 3 May 1986. Retrieved 2008-04-30.

  27. The Assassination Of Ranjan Wijeratne, Colombo Telegraph

  28.  “Religious ceremonies to commemorate the LTTE attack on Temple of tooth in Sri Lanka”Colombo Page. Sri Lanka. 25 January 2009. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2012.

  29.  Nubin, Walter (2003). Sri Lanka: Current Issues and Historical Background. New York: Nova Publishers. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-59033-573-4.

  30.  Tamil Tiger ‘regret’ over Gandhi, BBC

  31.  1991: Bomb kills India’s former leader Rajiv Gandhi, BBC

  32.  Suicide Bomber Kills President of Sri Lanka

  33.  Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (aka Tamil Tigers) (Sri Lanka, separatists), Council on Foreign Relations

  34.  Gunananda, A.T.M. (30 April 2006). “Gomarankadawala: “We need more security say villagers”The Sunday Times. Retrieved 21 April 2012.

  35.  Hodge, Amanda (2009-09-22). “Kamikaze raid shows the Tamil Tigers have not been tamed”. The Australian. Archived from the original on 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2009-02-23.

  36.  Pathak, Saroj (January 2005). War Or Peace in Sri Lanka. Popular Prakshan. ISBN 978-81-7991-199-0.

  37.  “Timeline of the Tamil conflict”BBC News. 2000-09-04. Retrieved 2007-12-15.

  38.  “Sri Lanka Human Rights Practices, 1995”US State Department. US State Department. March 1996. Archived from the original on 2005-03-20.

  39.  USA Today: Fighter jets pound suspected rebel camp after suicide bombing kills 95 sailors, October 17, 2006

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