The story

Angered by what he perceived as the systemic discrimination of the minority Tamils by successive Sri Lankan governments, 18-year-old Velupillai Prabhakaran, armed with just a revolver, set out in 1972 to right the perceived wrongs by forming a militant group.

That group eventually morphed into the Tamil Tigers, who have engaged in a brutal 25-year insurgency for an independent Tamil state that has left more than 70,000 dead.

Along the way, the group has been declared a terrorist organization in 32 countries, pioneered the use of women in suicide attacks and, according to the FBI, invented the suicide belt. Read full article »

CNN's Melissa Gray contributed to this report, which includes information from various sources. They include the U.S. State Department, the FBI, Interpol, Human Rights Watch, the Council on Foreign Relations, the CIA Factbook, and previous CNN reports.

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