Colombo: LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran's body has been cremated by Sri Lankan security forces, army chief Gen Sarath Fonseka has said amid claims by the rebels that their chief is alive.
Fonseka said the identification of 54-year-old Prabhakaran's body came on Tuesday morning after heavy confrontations in the northeastern Mullaittivu district the previous day.
"We cremated the body in the same area and threw the ashes into the (Indian) ocean," Fonseka told the Rivira newspaper in an interview to be published on Sunday.
"Even before Prabhakaran was killed, I knew we had won the war, but I was overjoyed when I had confirmation of his death," he said.
Fonseka said about 170 Tiger cadres were killed together with Prabhakaran on Monday.
However, the bodies of Tiger intelligence chief Pottu Amman and Prabhakaran's wife, Mathiwadini, had not been identified, although Prabhakaran's eldest son Charles Anthony's body was found.
The government showed footage of Prabhakaran's body after the pro-rebel Tamilnet website first claimed on May 18 that he was alive and well.
Prabhakaran's former deputy, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, who defected in March 2004, and an ex-Tiger spokesman known as Daya Master were flown to the northeast on Tuesday and they positively identified their former boss, officials said.
On Monday, military sources said Prabhakaran was shot dead along with his two deputies as they tried to flee in an ambulance and another van.
Fonseka said the information they had initially was that Prabhakaran was killed and his burnt body was found near ambulance. However, his body was found in a mangrove a short distance away.
The Tamilnet website on Friday repeated its claim that Prabhakaran was still alive, but offered no evidence in its support.