Top Tamil academic shot dead in eastern Sri Lanka
Mon May 24, 2004 10:47 EDT .
SHIMALI SENANAYAKE - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Unidentified gunmen fatally shot a top Tamil academic in violence-ridden eastern Sri Lanka - on Monday, military officials said. He worked as a lecturer at Eastern University of Sri Lanka - . 02
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the slaying. But military officials said Thambiah was a supporter of the powerful Tamil Tiger renegade leader, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, also known as Karuna.
More than a dozen killings including a military intelligence operative and rebels have taken place in recent weeks in Batticaloa, 220 kilometers (136 miles) east of the capital Colombo. Both the security forces and the rebels have denied targeting each other in the attacks.
Sri Lanka - 's east has been a hotbed since the Tamil Tigers' main rebel group crushed a 6,000-strong factional revolt led by Muralitharan last month, killing more than 30 guerrillas and several civilians.
Muralitharan's whereabouts remain unknown, although there is speculation his supporters are still active in the area.
Batticaloa town is under government control, but the Tigers operate in surrounding areas where defense lines are very fluid.
European cease-fire monitors of a two-year truce between the government and rebels have warned the slayings could threaten the fragile cease-fire and the peace process aimed at ending the 19-year conflict that has killed nearly 65,000 people.
The rebels began their violent campaign in 1983 to create a separate state for minority Tamils, but now are demanding wide autonomy instead.
Top Norwegian peace-broker Erik Solheim was to arrive later Monday to try and revive peace talks between the two sides that stalled over various differences in April 2003.
Published: Mon May 24 12:36:12 EDT 2004