Asia Crisis

CHRONOLOGY-Sri Lanka's long running civil war

Nov 2 (Reuters) - Tamil Tiger political wing leader S.P. Thamilselvan was killed in a Sri Lankan air force raid early on Friday, the rebels said, in what analysts warned was a body-blow to any hope of ending the conflict soon.

Following is a chronology of key incidents in the Sri Lankan civil war, which has killed nearly 70,000 people since it erupted in 1983:

1948 - Island of Ceylon gains independence from Britain; country is later renamed Sri Lanka.

1956 - Government makes majority Sinhala language the language of state. Minority Tamils say they feel marginalised.

1976 - As some Tamils take up arms against the state, militant Velupillai Prabhakaran forms the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

1983 - Tiger attack in north kills several soldiers, triggering vast anti-Tamil riots in capital, Colombo. Hundreds die, thousands flee. Start of what Tigers call "First Eelam War".

1987 - Having earlier armed Tigers, India sends troops to enforce truce. Tigers renege on pact, refuse to disarm and begin three years of fighting that kills 1,000 Indian soldiers.

1990 - India withdraws, leaving LTTE in control of northern city of Jaffna. Tigers over-run police stations in east. "Second Eelam War" begins.

1991 - Suspected Tiger suicide bomber kills former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in south India.

1993 - President Ranasinghe Premadasa is killed by suicide bomber at May Day rally.

1995 - Then-President Chandrika Kumaratunga agrees truce with rebels. "Eelam War 3" begins when rebels sink naval craft. Tigers lose Jaffna to government forces.

1995-2001 - War rages across north and east. Suicide attack on Central Bank in Colombo kills around 100. Kumaratunga is wounded in another attack as bombs become frequent.

2001 - Tiger attack on main international airport destroys half of Sri Lankan Airlines fleet. Economic growth ceases.

2002 - After Norwegian mediation, two sides sign ceasefire.

2003 - Tigers pull out of talks, ceasefire holds.

2004 - Tiger offensive regains control of east.

2005 - Suspected Tiger assassin kills foreign minister. Rebel election boycott helps perceived hardline anti-Tiger politician Mahinda Rajapaksa win presidency. Attacks on military rise.

2006 - After string of attacks in January, two sides meet in Geneva in February where they renew commitment to 2002 truce and agree to talk again. By April, fighting becomes more common and many fear they are seeing start of "Eelam War 4".

December 2006- Tamil Tiger chief negotiator and ideologue Anton Balasingham dies of cancer in London.

July 2006 - Heavy ground fighting starts after dispute over rebel-held water supply in the east, which spills over into northern Jaffna peninsula. Two sides meet again in Geneva on Oct. 28-29 but talks fail. Artillery battles follow in Jaffna.

Jan. 2007 - Government captures Tiger eastern stronghold of Vakarai. Tens of thousands of civilians are displaced.

March 26- Tigers launch their first confirmed air raid on military base next to island's only international airport, north of Colombo. Three airmen are killed and 16 wounded.

July 11 - Government declares it has driven rebels from their last jungle stronghold in east.

Oct 22 -Tigers suicide fighters mount their biggest ground assault since civil war began on a north-central airbase.

Nov.2 - Tamil Tiger rebel political wing leader S.P Thamilselvan killed from bombing by Air Force fighter jets.