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Sri Lanka holds parade to mark victory over Tamil separatists

Ishara S. Koikara / AFP - Getty Images

Sri Lankan snipers march with their rifles during a Victory Day parade in Colombo Saturday.

Members of Sri Lanka's military took place in a "Victory Day" parade Saturday to mark the defeat of Tamil Tiger separatists in a 25-year civil war.

The parade took place in the capital Colombo and there was also a two-minute silence in memory of 24,000 security force personnel who died during the near conflict, which ended in 2009, Sri Lanka's defense ministry said on its website.

In an address to the nation, President Mahinda Rajapakse said he still could not dismantle military camps in the former Tamil Tiger-controlled areas, the AFP news service reported.

Eranga Jayawardena / AP

Sri Lankan army soldiers carry flags of their respective units during the annual victory day parade.

"The diaspora has not stopped their activities [against Sri Lanka government forces]," Rajapakse said, referring to Tamil separatists abroad, according to AFP.

"It is no secret that LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] leaders are freely operating abroad," he added. 

Eranga Jayawardena / AP

Sri Lankan soldier amputees participate in the annual victory day parade in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday.

A U.S-backed resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council last month urged Sri Lanka to investigate alleged abuses during the last months of the war. Rights groups claim the president is implicated in shooting fighters as they sought to surrender.

In recent months, rights workers and journalists have been targeted by a government media campaign against "traitors" it says helped the defeated guerrillas.

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