Tamil Tiger rebels threaten to transport commanders through Sri Lankan territory
Sat April 8, 2006 08:39 EDT .
KRISHAN FRANCIS - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's Tamil Tiger rebels warned they would transport senior commanders through government areas without a military escort in violation of a truce deal because the government refused to airlift them to a crucial meeting. Sri Lanka - 's government has provided helicopters to transport rebel officials through government-held territory since a Norway-brokered cease-fire was agreed in February 2002. Under the truce, the guerrillas are forbidden from using their own means of transport through government areas.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam political-wing chief, S.P Thamilselvan, wrote to Norway's Ambassador Hans Brattskar saying senior rebel commanders were unable to travel to the Tiger meeting because Sri Lanka - 's military refused to transport them.
``LTTE leadership's meeting with the field commanders is an absolute necessity to maintain the integrity of the cease-fire agreement,'' TamilNet Web site quoted Thamilselvan's letter as saying.
``We are now left with the alternative of making our own sea transport, conscious of the risks that would ensue in any possible confrontations with the Sri Lanka - navy that would put the cease-fire agreement into grave risk,'' he said.
The government has turned down several requests for air and sea transport in the past, but started doing so with much more frequency after relations with the rebels became strained after a series of violent incidents since December, which left at least 166 people dead.
The government didn't have an immediate response Saturday to Thamilselvan's letter.
On Saturday an anti-personnel mine explosion near a military truck carrying supplies in northern Jaffna peninsula injured one soldier and a civilian, military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said. Further details were not immediately available.
Hours earlier, suspected Tamil Tiger rebels fired at a military observation point in eastern Sri Lanka - injuring two soldiers.
The shooting took place in Selvanagar near the eastern port town of Trincomalee 230 kilometers (140 miles) northeast of Colombo, Samarasinghe said.
The Tigers and government met in Geneva in February for the first time in three years and agreed to scale down violence and meet again in Switzerland from April 19-21.
Tamil Tiger rebels have fought since 1983 to create a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils, accusing the majority Sinhalese-dominated government of systematic discrimination.
More than 65,000 people were killed in the conflict before the cease-fire.
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Published: Sat Apr 8 09:57:06 EDT 2006