LTTE plan mass suicide: Ministry

COLOMBO: Tamil Tiger rebels who are battling Sri Lankan government troops are close to losing their territory and preparing to commit "mass suicide," the defence ministry said Saturday.

The Tigers are "are preparing for a mass suicide after being effectively cut-off of escape routes, both land and sea, and now encircled in a mere 3.5 square kilometres (1.3 square miles) of land," a statement said.

It said their "only way out is to surrender to the security forces or to be crushed in the military advance." The defence ministry said it also believed the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Velupillai Prabhakaran, was still holed up in the area.