Colombo: The Government on Friday released the last batch of some 1,800 former LTTE guerrillas who underwent rehabilitation after the end of a three-decade ethnic conflict in May 2009, officials said.

The release ceremony for the former Tamil Tigers was held at President Mahinda Rajapaksa's official residence in the presence of the Colombo- based diplomatic community.

"As you rejoin society today after two years of vocational training, you go out as free men and women," Rajapaksa told the former LTTE fighters.

He said there will be anti-social elements that will prey on you. "But I hope you will work for peace and ethnic harmony in this nation of ours. We must not dwell on the bitter past, but look to a prosperous future," he underlined.

The former Tamil Tiger guerrillas were among about 11,000 LTTE fighters who underwent vocational training in military-run rehabilitation centers after they surrendered following the end of the civil war in May 2009.

They were allowed to reunite with the families having gone through the process where they were taught self employment skills and English language training.

Officials said there are over a thousand more former Tamil Tigers who have been sent for rehabilitation as a result of the court procedure. They will be released only after the legal process.

Major General Chandana Rajaguru who supervised the process said the rehabilitation had ended ahead of schedule.    

"The programme was to end by December 31. But we have made rapid progress," Rajaguru said.

The ex-combatants had been given training in, masonry, plumbing, carpentry and business skills. Some were also trained as psychologists and computer programmers.

They were reintegrated into the society in batches at different times. Over 8,000 former LTTE cadres have been through the rehabilitation process after they had surrendered after the end of the civil war.

(Agencies)