Report: Suicide truck bombers may target Sri Lankan capital's landmarks
Sun January 15, 2006 04:23 EST .
DILIP GANGULY - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Soldiers in full battle gear manned checkpoints and patrolled Sri Lanka - 's capital Sunday after an intelligence report warned that Tamil Tiger suicide bombers may target prominent landmarks in Colombo.
The city's World Trade Center, Central Bank building and port may be targets of a Tiger attack as surging violence threatens a four-year-old cease-fire, the Sunday Leader newspaper said, citing an intelligence report.
Attackers could use explosive-laden vehicles, the news report said. The rebels have twice used suicide truck bombs in deadly attacks, hitting the Central Bank in 1987 and the World Trade Center in 1997.
``We have taken all possible security precautions in Colombo, and our forces are on full alert,'' said Deputy Inspector General of Police P. Jayasundara. He declined to comment on the news report.
Separately, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE the Tigers' formal name announced they were training sharpshooters.
``Interrelationship between technical advances, tactical innovation and battlefield capability mandates that skilled sharpshooters become an important component of our fighting force,'' the Tigers' Web site quoted a senior rebel commander Col. Theepan, as saying.
Like many of the rebels, Theepan uses a single name.
The Tigers who fought since 1983 for a separate homeland in the northeast for ethnic minority Tamils, claiming discrimination by the majority Sinhalese have been blamed for only one attack in Colombo since signing a 2002 Norway-brokered cease-fire with the government. The civil war killed more than 65,000 people.
Before the truce, Tiger suicide bombers mounted numerous attacks on government facilities and on the rebels' opponents.
After the cease-fire was signed, peace talks broke down due to disagreements over rebel demands for broad autonomy in the Tamil-majority northeast.
The government has blamed the Tigers for a spate of attacks that have killed 72 security forces since Dec. 4, sparking fears the cease-fire could collapse. The Tigers have denied involvement in the violence.
On Sunday, soldiers in full battle gear were posted on Colombo's major roads. Heavily armed troops patrolled the streets in military vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Tigers denied involvement in a grenade attack Friday on a European cease-fire monitors' compound, calling it a bid to sabotage the truce.
Attackers in the eastern city of Batticaloa, 220 kilometers (135 miles) east of Colombo, hurled a grenade into the compound, damaging three vehicles. No injuries were reported.
``Our leadership views this attack as an attempt to wreck the cease-fire agreement,'' the Tigers' Web site quoted their top political leader, S.P. Thamilselvan, as saying Sunday.
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Published: Sun Jan 15 12:28:19 EST 2006