Sri Lanka has commemorated the eighth anniversary of the end of a three-decade war against the liberation tigers of Tamil Eelam separatists and its elusive leader, Veluppilai Prabhakarn.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena attended the ceremony in Kotte where he addressed the crowd and laid a wreath in remembrance of the thousands killed during the war.

The tigers waged war to create a separate homeland for Sri Lanka’s minority Tamils, many of whom complained of discrimination by governments led by the Sinhalese ethnic majority since independence from Britain in 1948.

On may 19, 2009, the president announced in parliament, the defeat of the rebels.

Around 10,000 fighters surrendered and the entire rebel leadership was killed in the final bloody battle on the beaches of northeastern Mullaithivu.

Two-thirds of the island’s coast which was closed during the war is now open for fishing and tourism, and a third of the island which was once deeply entrenched in war is quickly being integrated with the rest of the country.