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World News

TIMELINE: Collapse of Sri Lanka's troubled ceasefire

(Reuters) - Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels killed a Sri Lankan minister with a roadside bomb north of the capital on Tuesday, a senior hospital official said.

Following is a chronology of key incidents in the Sri Lankan civil war, which has killed around 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 marginalized.

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”.

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

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

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

March 26, 2007 - 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.

November 2 - Tamil Tiger rebel political wing leader S.P Thamilselvan killed by Air Force fighter jet bombing raid.

January 1, 2008 - Main opposition United National Party (UNP) parliamentarian T. Maheshweran shot dead in a Hindu temple in Colombo.

Jan 2, 2008 - Government decides to annul the six-year-old ceasefire agreement with the Tigers.

January 8, 2008 - Nation Building Minister D.M. Dassanayake is killed by a roadside bomb planted by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels in the town of Ja-Ela, 12 miles north of Colombo.

Source: Reuters

Writing by Nagesh Narayana and Rob Dawson

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