Tamil Tigers warn of truce collapse

Sri Lankan govt says it has no intention of returning to war

Agence France Presse

Colombo, July 20:

Sri Lanka’s Tiger rebels warned today that a truce brokered by Norway was at “grave risk” of collapsing even as the Colombo government said it had no intention of returning to war.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) told Norway and the Norwegian-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission at a meeting in the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi that saving the truce was the responsibility of the government.

“The ceasefire agreement is at grave risk and the Sri Lankan government has the responsibility to salvage it...,” the LTTE’s political wing leader SP Thamilselvan said, renewing a call for increased security for their officials.

“We are not asking for the moon,” he said. “We only request that the government sincerely implement clause 1.8 to put an end to the accelerating violence perpetrated by these groups, which alone can ensure a violence-free environment.”

He was referring to calls for the government to disarm paramilitary groups whom the Tigers blame for attacks against their officials in the island’s restive east. Thamilselvan’s meeting with truce monitors and a diplomat from the Norwegian embassy comes amid growing violence in the eastern province.

The government said it was keen to maintain the truce despite what it called rebel provocation. The government has placed security forces on alert but has a “great deal of patience”, Minister for Law and Order Ratnasiri Wickremanayake said in remarks published in Daily News.

“The government has no intention of going back to war despite provocation by the LTTE in blatantly violating provisions in the ceasefire agreement,” the minister was quoted as saying.

He said the government was hopeful of achieving “lasting peace” and the country was not ready for war, especially in the light of the December 26 tsunami disaster that killed about 31,000 people.

Tensions heightened last week when the Supreme Court effectively blocked a tsunami aid-sharing deal between Colombo and the Tamil Tigers.

“We should ensure that our services personnel who go to serve in the north and east do not return home in coffins,” the minister said. “However the government has kept all forces on the alert and is working with a great deal of patience because of its desire to forge peace.”