Friday, January 11, 2008

LTTE disappointed over withdrawal of ceasefire by Lanka govt

COLOMBO: Separatist Tamil Tiger rebels (LTTE) said on Thursday that they want to continue the 2002 ceasefire with the Sri Lankan government, a week after Colombo officially withdrew from the truce.

"We are shocked and disappointed that the government of Sri Lanka has unilaterally abrogated the ceasefire agreement signed in 2002," B Nadesan, the group's political head, said in a statement.

It was the group's first public reaction to the government's decision.

The Tigers were "ready to implement every clause" of the Norway-brokered truce and respect it "100 percent", he said.

The rebel group is banned in the United States, India, the European Union and Canada as a foreign terrorist organisation.

Nadesan blamed successive governments of historically cancelling pacts. He also called on the international community to "immediately remove the bans it has placed on the LTTE believing the false propaganda of the Sri Lankan government."

Nadesan's comments came after a meeting with Lars Johan Solvberg, the head of a European truce-monitoring team that lost its mandate with the truce's end.

Violence has escalated, since the government pulled out of the cease-fire Jan 3.

Violence across northern Sri Lanka killed five insurgents Thursday, a defence official said on condition of anonymity citing government rules.

Soldiers set off a bomb targeting a rebel bunker across a defence line in Kilali of Jaffna peninsula, killing two rebels, he said.

The two sides also fought two separate battles in Muhamalai and Nagarkovil regions of the peninsula, killing three other insurgents, the official said.

On Wednesday, troops clashed with guerrillas in the districts of Vavuniya and Mannar on the border of rebel-held areas, leaving at least 24 rebels and one soldier killed, a defence ministry said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

Five other rebels were killed in gun battles on Wednesday on the northern Jaffna peninsula, military spokesman Brig Udaya Nanayakkara said.

The rebels could not be reached for comment. Each side routinely exaggerates the other's casualties and plays down its own.

Also Wednesday, police commandos fatally shot a senior rebel leader identified as Shankar who was hiding among civilians in the east, Nanayakkara said. Shankar was the insurgents' top leader in eastern Sri Lanka, a region the government said it liberated from rebel control in July.

Courtesy of Times of India