The Lanka Academic

VOL. 6, NO. 300


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Headline Summary
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Tamil Tiger rebels threaten to pull out of Sri Lanka peace talks as 10 aid workers go missing
Shimali Senanayake in Colombo, January 31st, 2006, 11:00 pm. Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels on Tuesday threatened to pull out of next months peace talks over the abduction of 10 Tamil aid workers in the island's volatile east, officials said.

"It will damage the atmosphere of negotiations and make it difficult to resume talks," said Daya Master, spokesman for the Tigers from the rebel-held capital of Kilinochchi. "They should be released immediately," Master said, blaming the abductions on para-militaries supported by the Sri Lankan army. The military denies any involvement.

The Tigers' threat comes barely a week after Norway's top peace envoy Erik Solheim broke an almost three year deadlock to resume stalled peace talks between the government and the guerrillas amid fears that the island was on the brink of war.

The Tamil Rehabilitation Organization or TRO, a registered charity in Sri Lanka with alleged strong links to the Tigers said five among 15 of its members had been abducted by "unidentified gunmen," in the island's restive eastern Batticaloa, about 150 kilo meters from the capital Colombo, on Monday.

Less than a day later, the TRO reported that another group _ including three pre-school volunteer teachers _ affiliated to their organization had gone missing without a trace in the same area. "Under the circumstances, we fear that the same fate has befallen these humanitarian workers," said Arjunan Ethirveerasungham, the TRO's project development manager. "There seems to be a campaign of terror unleashed on TRO personnel in the northeast." He appealed to the Sri Lankan government and the international community to speedily investigate the abductions.

Earlier Tuesday, the United States embassy in Colombo, also urged authorities to "rapidly investigate," the allegations, while appealing to "all parties to exercise restraint and calm."

The kidnappings have been brought to the notice of President Mahinda Rajapakse and there was concern if the incidents will jeopardize the much-awaited negotiations to strengthen a fragile cease-fire.

European truce monitors said they had visited the scene but will return again Wednesday to probe the incidents further. "The LTTE has complained about these abductions and says this may jeopardize the whole Geneva conference," said Hagrup Haukland, chief of the 57-member mission. "We are very concerned as there are elements trying to disrupt the peace process."

The Tigers have been fighting for a separate state since 1983 for the island's ethnic Tamil minority, claiming discrimination by the Sinhalese majority. Nearly 65,000 people were killed before Norway brokered a truce in February 2002. Subsequent peace talks broke down a year later amid rebel demands for wide autonomy in the Tamil-majority north and east.

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Published: Tue Jan 31 14:22:43 EST 2006

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LTTE fumes as aid workers abducted  -
Another five TRO staff reported missing  - Tamilnet
Tamil Tiger rebels threaten to pull out of peace talks after alleged abduction of Tamils  - Associated Press

Tiger allegations bogus - Govt
bbc, February 1. The government categorically denies that five members of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization,(TRO) an organization with links to the LTTE, have been abducted on the A11 road on Monday afternoon. Speaking to Sandeshaya defence spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said that this allegation is an attempt to discredit security forcers. He said “Such abduction could not happen in close vicinity to the check point”. According to the TRO the abductors were armed and previously there have been reports that the armed gang loyal to Karuna who broke away from the LTTE has camped in areas close by. More...
Published: Tue Jan 31 20:39:14 EST 2006 Back to the top

Tamil rebel faction announces unilateral cease-fire ahead of Sri Lanka 's peace talks
Associated Press, Mon January 30, 2006 23:36 EST . A breakaway Tamil Tiger faction has offered a cease-fire to the mainstream rebels ahead of the insurgents' talks with the government, a move it hopes will help secure a permanent peace for Sri Lanka, media reports said Tuesday.

The government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam agreed last week to meet for the first time in about four years to try to save a cease-fire that has come under intense pressure following the killing of over 150 people since December.

The talks will be held in Switzerland in February, although a date has not been confirmed.

``This unilateral cease-fire is declared to create a conducive environment for the Sri Lankan president (Mahinda Rajapakse) to continue with his negotiations to bring about a permanent'' end to the civil war, Colombo's Daily Mirror quoted a statement from the renegades as saying.

The breakaway faction, led by Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, also known as Karuna, left the mainstream group in March 2004 with about 6,000 fighters. The uprising was suppressed by the main rebel group a month later, but the breakaway leader is still believed to have many followers among Tamils in the east.

The LTTE - which has its main power base in the north - has accused the Sri Lankan military of backing Karuna's faction, an accusation the military denies.

There was no immediate reaction available from the LTTE on the renegades' offer.

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Published: Tue Jan 31 01:43:17 EST 2006 Back to the top

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Breakaway faction offers truce to Tamil Tigers
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