COLOMBO, March 7 (Xinhua) -- A Sri Lankan Tamil militant group broke away from the rebel Tamil Tigers and surrendered its weapons to the government on Saturday, a spokesman from the group said.
Some 250 weapons belonging to the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP, meaning Tamil People's Liberation Tigers), were handed over to the military in the eastern town of Batticaloa, some 320 km east of the capital Colombo in the afternoon, TMVP spokesman Azath Moulana told Colombo media by phone.
"Our politburo took a decision to hand over the weapons as terrorism is coming to an end," Moulana said. He said the TMVP had taken to arms for self defense but now there is no need to carry arms.
On the future of its armed cadres, Moulana said the Ministry of Defense and the International Organization for Migration had both promised a better future for them.
The TMVP, a breakaway faction of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was formed in 2004 led by the LTTE's former eastern commander Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan alias Karuna.
Karuna is now a member of the Sri Lankan parliament from the ruling party of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse.
Moulana said the TMVP would now function solely as a democratic party.
Sri Lankan defense spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said earlier the TMVP's move is an indication that former LTTE cadres believe that the LTTE is no longer a threat to their lives.
The TMVP took control of Batticaloa's local councils in the election held in March last year and two months later its leader Sivanesaturai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan was elected the chief minister of the Eastern Province in the provincial council election.
Sri Lanka's government troops, now fighting a fierce battle with the LTTE in the north, say the troops are on the verge of totally defeating the rebel group as the rebels have been cornered in a small area of 45 sq km.
Large numbers of civilians are still trapped in the battle zone in the north and the international community is calling both sides to ensure the safety of the civilians.
Claiming discrimination at the hands of Sinhalese majority governments, the LTTE began its armed struggle in the 1980s to set up an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east, resulting in the killing of more than 70,000 people.