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Sri Lanka bleeds – with no peace in sight

[New Kerala, Thursday, 25 December 2008 11:00 No Comment]

By P. Karunakharan: Sri Lanka’s dragging ethnic conflict is at a decisive phase, with the military determined to crush the Tamil Tigers and the guerrillas adamantly refusing to give up.

The Indian Ocean island nation is spending millions of dollars to give an annihilating blow to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as troops try to seize the last of two rebel bastions: Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu.
Having captured the eastern province from the LTTE in 2007 after nearly two decades, Sri Lanka is inching towards taking control of Kilinochchi, a small northern town that has been the rebel political hub.

The army has captured a vast track of LTTE territories from Omanthai to Mankulam in the north and from Mannar to Pooneryn on the northwestern coastal belt — for the first time after a decade.

The LTTE is using all its might to stop the advancing military.

The year 2008 dawned on a violent note when opposition MP T. Maheshwaran was gunned down by gunmen during New Year prayers in a Hindu temple in the Sri Lankan capital.

On the eve of the Sinhala-Tamil New Year in April, cabinet minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle was killed in a suicide bomb attack outside Colombo, for which the Tigers were blamed.

There have been claymore mine attacks targeting buses carrying both military personnel and civilians elsewhere in the island. The military has been blamed for similar attacks in LTTE areas.

Another minister, D.M. Dassanayake, and a Tamil MP sympathetic to the LTTE, S. Sivanesan, were killed in tit-for-tat killings.

Confident of a military victory, the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa formally spiked on Jan 16 the Norway-brokered ceasefire agreement signed with the LTTE in 2002.

[Full Coverage]

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