Senior military officials said troops closed in on Prabhakaran and his final cadre early Monday.
He and his top deputies then drove an armor-plated van accompanied by a bus filled with rebel fighters toward approaching Sri Lankan forces, sparking a two-hour firefight, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Special: The End of Tamil Tigers
Troops eventually fired a rocket at the van, ending the battle, they said. Troops pulled Prabhakaran's body from the van and identified it as that of the rebel leader, they said. The attack also killed Soosai, the head of the rebels' naval wing, and Pottu Amman, the group's feared intelligence commander, the officials said.
Image: A Sri Lankan woman holds the national flag as she celebrates the victory of military over Tamil Tiger rebels in Colombo on May 18.
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