Cease-fire monitors: Sri Lanka 's truce, peace process threatened by killings
Mon May 10, 2004 08:39 EDT .
- - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) European cease-fire monitors on Monday warned that the recent killings in Sri Lanka - of at least nine Tamil Tiger rebels and one army soldier posed a serious threat to a fragile truce and efforts to end the island's 19-year ethnic war. The Tigers said at least nine rebels have been killed by the military in the past two weeks, and warned of ``dire consequences'' if such assaults continue. On Sunday, suspected rebels shot and killed a soldier in eastern Sri Lanka - , in an apparent retaliatory attack.
The military has denied involvement in the rebel assaults.
``I find these killings to be disgusting atrocities,'' Trond Furuhovde, the chief of the cease-fire monitors said in the statement.
He urged the Sri Lankan government and the Tigers, ``to unite their efforts to identify and apprehend the perpetrators, and implement measures to prevent such infamy acts to happen again.''
Norway helped the Sri Lankan government and the rebels reach a cease-fire agreement, which was signed in February 2002. The truce has held despite a deadlock in peace talks that the government is desperately trying to revive.
The killings have overshadowed a visit by Norway's Foreign Minister Jan Petersen who arrived in the island earlier Monday hoping to kick-start the stalled peace process.
Monday's visit is the first for Petersen since President Chandrika Kumaratunga's party won parliamentary elections last month that ousted her rival, former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Kumaratunga had accused Wickremesinghe of conceding too much to the rebels in his effort to end the civil war and risking national security. She also had accused Norwegian peace negotiators of favoring the rebels.
However, since the polls, Kumaratunga has softened her stance and invited Norway to resume mediation.
The rebels began their violent campaign in 1983 to create a separate state for minority Tamils. About 65,000 people were killed in the fighting before the cease-fire.
Published: Mon May 10 10:41:25 EDT 2004