Q&A with Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa

In a meeting room at Temple Trees, the stately British-colonial residence that now makes up the President's official compound, Mahinda Rajapaksa sat next to a framed 14th century temple painting and spoke with TIME's Jyoti Thottam about winning the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The leader of the Tigers, Velupillai Prabhakaran, had become practically a mythical figure in Sri Lanka. What went through your mind when you heard he had been killed?
Thank the Lord. Thank the [Buddhist] Triple Gem. That was a gift.

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