COLOMBO: Thousands of people in Sri Lanka's Tamil-dominated northern province today participated in a commemorative ceremony to observe the ninth anniversary of the three-decade long brutal civil war which claimed at least 1,00,000 lives.
The main ceremony was held at Mullaivaikkal in the Mullaithivu district, the scene of the final battle between the Sri Lankan troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
All businesses remained shut in Mullaivaikkal as a mark of respect for those who died during the civil war.
Around 5,000 people took part in the ceremony in which no other Tamil politician participated except northern Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran, according to local journalists covering the event.
Wigneswaran saw the lighting of an oil lamp by a girl who had lost both her parents and three brothers during the final stage of the civil war battle, they said.
Main Tamil party Tamil National Alliance's (TNA) conciliatory attitude towards the Sri Lankan government has angered the Tamil nationalists.
"Wherever our Tamil people might be, let us come together to remember the massive human destruction that our community was subjected to," Wigneswaran said in a statement.
In the south of the island dominated by the Sinhala majority, the government troops commemorated the fallen war heroes who had fought the LTTE's 30-year separatist campaign.
Students from the Jaffna University arrived at the memorial ground in a long motorcade where oil lamps were lit in commemoration of the dead.
Tamils claim tens of thousands of civilians were killed in the final phase of the battle, a charge that is denied by the government troops.
The government has banned the commemoration of the fallen LTTE cadres in the conflict and it remains a banned terrorist organisation in Sri Lanka.
Government forces killed the LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran on May 18, 2009 after a brutal military crackdown, putting an end to the 37-year long conflict, which claimed at least 1,00,000 lives.
According to UN figures, up to 40,000 civilians were killed by security forces during former president Mahinda Rajapaksas regime that brought an end to the conflict.