Monitors concerned as LTTE threatens to break truce

Associated Press

Colombo, July 1:

European truce monitors expressed grave concern over Sri Lanka’s ceasefire today, a day after Tamil Tigers set a two-week dea-dline for the government to improve security for guerrillas travelling through government-held areas or risk a return to civil war. The chief of the monitoring mission, Hagrup Haukland, met today with the government’s top official in the peace process, Jayantha Dhanapala, and handed over a Tamil Tiger proposal to step up protection. The Tigers demanded that soldiers be present in all vehicles transporting guerrillas to guarantee their security. They also asked for larger groups to be divided up and transported in separate vehicles. “We are very much concerned about the ceasefire and the peace process,” Haukland said. “The climate between the parties, in relation to this issue (guards for the rebels), is not good at all.” After talks with Haukland yesterday, Tiger political chief SP Thamilselvan said he had demanded that the government boost security for rebels travelling in the island’s restive east within two weeks or risk the collapse of the February 2002 ceasefire that ended this country’s brutal two-decade civil war. “If the LTTE decides to use its own armed escort, the ceasefire agreement will likely collapse,” Thamilselvan said, using the acronym for the rebels’ official name, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.