Sri Lanka: Ethnic violence rooted in history





Sri Lanka's government may be close to declaring final victory over Tamil Tiger rebels, but the roots of the ethnic conflict run deeper than the bloody decades of armed struggle.

More than 70,000 people have been killed since the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) took up arms in 1972 to fight for their own homeland in the northeast of the Sinhalese-majority island.

The British colonial regime, which ended with independence in 1948, was marked by a policy of "divide and rule" among the Sinhalese and ethnic Tamil minority which now comprises 12.6 percent of the island's 20 million population.

The Sinhalese are mostly Buddhists while the Tamils are Hindus, but religion was never the divisive issue.



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