The Tamil Tigers had fought to establish a Tamil homeland, separate from Sri Lanka, in the northern and eastern portion of Ceylon (Tamil Eelam). This effort led to a series of armed conflicts with the Sri Lankan military. In the late 1980s India, feeling considerable pressure from its Tamil nationals, began to intervene on both a diplomatic and military basis. Negotiations led to the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord, signed in Colombo on 29 July 1987, under which the Sri Lankan government agreed to give the nation's provinces more power and autonomy and withdraw its troops to their barracks. The Tamil rebels were to surrender their arms as well.
Most Tamil groups, including the Tigers, had not participated in the talks. Only reluctantly did they agree to surrender their arms to the Indian Peace-Keeping Force as provided by the Accord. Even so, many rebels did not surrender their weapons, and the situation quickly flared into active confrontation. The Tigers declared their intent to continue armed struggle for an independent Tamil Eelam and refused to disarm. The IPKF soon found itself engaged in a bloody police action against the Tigers, which culminated in the rebels being cornered on the Jaffna Peninsula, at the northern end of the island. The IPKF set out to complete its mission of disarming the LTTE by taking Jaffna by force.