Ethnic Divide Worsens as Sri Lanka Conflict Escalates
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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — There are no eyes on this war. A truce between the Sri Lankan government and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is over, and gone are the Nordic monitors who kept watch over it.
The government has refused entry to United Nations human rights monitors. Independent journalists are not allowed anywhere near the front lines. Only occasionally does a glimpse of the war’s damage surface, as when the Red Cross confirmed that in the first six weeks of this year alone, 180 civilians had been killed, a toll it called “appalling.”
While it is impossible to gauge what is happening on the battlefield, that is where, it seems, the government has placed its bets to settle the long-running ethnic war, once and for all. As it does, the public mood in this country is more divided than in many years, like an old scratch that has festered into a gaping wound.
The new government offensive against the ethnic Tamil insurgents, who have fought for a quarter-century to carve a separate homeland from this island, has received ample public support, at least among the ethnic Sinhalese who are the majority.
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Published: Fri Mar 7 21:21:12 EST 2008