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Sri Lanka Says Tamil Tigers May Try Terrorist Attacks in South

[Bloomberg, Thursday, 19 March 2009 08:13 No Comment]

Sri Lanka warned civilians the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam may carry out terrorist attacks in the south now that the group is on the brink of defeat in the north of the nation.

 

“We have received information that the terrorists are planning to create destruction in the south,” the Media Center for National Security cited police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekara as saying yesterday. Police stations in Western Province that includes the capital, Colombo, will conduct security checks at the weekend.

 

A suicide bomber killed 14 people in an attack nine days ago in the southern district of Matara that injured Sri Lanka’s minister of special projects and posts and telecommunications.

 

Sri Lanka’s military says LTTE fighters control only a 28- square-kilometer (10.8-square-mile) area near the northeastern port of Mullaitivu after being driven from their bases in the north since January. The United Nations is leading calls for a cease-fire, saying the fighting has created a humanitarian disaster with thousands of civilians driven from their homes in conflict zones.

 

The army has achieved “99 percent success” in defeating the LTTE, Keheliya Rambukwella, a Cabinet minister and defense spokesman, said yesterday, according to the Media Center.

 

The group has an international network for money laundering, drug trafficking and smuggling of humans, he said.

 

A total of 45,519 civilians have escaped from LTTE- controlled areas in recent weeks, Rambukwella said. Navy personnel rescued 643 civilians who came under fire from four Tamil Tiger dinghies while trying to flee near Mullaitivu yesterday, the Media Center said on its Web site.

 

Fighting in North

Army units are engaged in fighting near Puthukkudiyiruppu, in Mullaitivu district, as troops uncover rebel hiding posts, the Defense Ministry said early today.

 

The Voice of Tigers, the LTTE’s radio station, said March 17 its forces inflicted heavy casualties on the army in three days of fighting in the area, according to a report carried by the TamilNet news agency in the north.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government has ruled out any truce with the LTTE and is demanding the group’s unconditional surrender. It accuses the Tamil Tigers of preventing about 70,000 people from trying to flee in the north.

 

The Tamil Tigers say the military is shelling and bombing civilian areas and that people are staying in LTTE-held territory of their own free will because they don’t want to be placed in government-run internment camps.

 

The government is providing food and aid by land and sea for displaced people in the north and the military is making every effort to avoid civilian casualties, Rajapaksa told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a telephone conversation two days ago, according to a statement on the government’s Web site.

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