London: Two top Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leaders had tried to negotiate their surrender but were killed by the Sri Lankan army while "holding white flags", a Sunday Times report said.
According to the paper, political leader of the Tamil Tigers, Balasingham Nadesan was in touch with its correspondent till late night on May 17 by satellite phone from the tiny strip of jungle and beach on the northeast coast of Sri Lanka where the Tigers had been making their last stand.
"We are putting down our arms," Nadesan told Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin.
THE MYSTERY CONTINUES: According to a report, LTTE leaders were killed while holding white flags.
Amid machine gun fire in the background, he told Colvin: "We are looking for a guarantee of security from the Obama administration and the British government. Is there a guarantee of security?"
The head of the Tigers' peace secretariat, Nadesan and Seevaratnam Puleedevan were holed up with a group of 300 fighters and their families, many of them injured.
The Times correspondent established contact with the UN special envoy in Colombo, Vijay Nambiar, through highly placed British and US officials and passed on the Tigers' conditions for surrender, which he was to relay to the Sri Lankan government.
According to the paper, at 5.30 am Sri Lankan time on May 18 Colvin got in touch with Nambiar in Colombo and told him that the Tigers had laid down their arms.
Nambiar said he had been assured by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa that Nadesan and Puleedevan would be safe. "All they have to do is hoist a white flag high," Nambiar said.
Colvin by now had lost touch with Nadesan. She contacted a Tamil Tiger sympathiser in South Africa and asked him to send the message to Nadesan - hold a white flag.
A Tamil who was in the group with the two leaders and managed to escape the war zone described what happened.
The source, who spoke to an aid worker, said Nadesan and Puleedevan walked towards Sri Lankan army lines with a white flag in a group of about a dozen men and women. He said the army started firing with machine guns at them, the news report said.
Nadesan's wife, a Sinhalese, yelled in Sinhala at the soldiers: "He is trying to surrender and you are shooting him." She was also shot down.
The source said all in the group were killed. He is now in hiding, fearing for his life.
The Sri Lankan military decimated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on May 18 by killing its entire leadership including chief Velupillai Prabhakaran. The death of Prabhakaran brought the curtains down on a quarter-century old insurgency for a separate Tamil homeland in the country's northeast.