Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in white, rides on a vehicle with security forces commanders as he greets people during war anniversary parade south of Colombo, Sunday. Pic: AP.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s government has marked the fifth anniversary of the civil war victory over ethnic Tamil separatists by displaying its military strength, while preventing Tamil civilians from publicly remembering their dead.

The contrasting approach shows the deep ethnic polarization existing in this island nation despite the end of the quarter-century civil war.

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President Mahinda Rajapaksa presided over a Victory Day ceremony Sunday in the southern coastal town of Matara, where military personnel paraded in the streets with tanks and artillery guns, while fighter jets flew overhead.

In the country’s ethnic Tamil-majority north and east, military personnel surrounded political party and newspaper offices in an apparent attempt to prevent public memorials for those who died in the war.

Military spokesman Ruwan Wanigasooriya could not be immediately reached for comment.