India calls on Sri Lankan army to show restraint
Wed October 15, 2008 12:20 EDT .
ASHOK SHARMA - Associated Press Writer - NEW DELHI (AP) India's prime minister said Wednesday that a military victory would not end neighboring Sri Lanka - 's long simmering ethnic conflict. Singh's comments came as the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, a regional party from southern India's Tamil Nadu state, called for greater restraint from Sri Lanka - 's army in fighting.
The conflict has escalated in recent months as the military has captured a series of rebel bases and large chunks of territory.
``The situation in Sri Lanka - remains a cause of serious concern to the government of India. The situation in Sri Lanka - doesn't call for a military victory,'' Singh told reporters in the Indian capital.
Sri Lanka - 's Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona responded that his government was committed to finding a political solution.
``Our goal remains to achieve a sustainable solution through a political process.''
However, he said as long as the rebel faction ``deploys terror,'' the government will be forced ``to counter it using every option available to us.''
India has generally been reluctant to become directly involved in Sri Lanka - 's internal affairs after a disastrous military intervention in the 1980s that led to the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber.
But Tamils living in India's Tamil Nadu are concerned about the future of Sri Lanka - 's Tamils, with whom they have ancestral links. In addition, India's prominence in the region, along with its large Tamil population, means that it plays a powerful diplomatic role in Sri Lanka - .
Singh added Wednesday that he was ``concerned about the losses suffered by the civilians and an increasing numbers of internally displaced persons.''
Rebels in Sri Lanka - have been fighting since 1983 for an independent Tamil homeland, arguing they have been historically marginalized by a series of governments led by ethnic Sinhalese.
It's unknown exactly how many people have died in recent fighting because both sides are notorious for exaggerating casualty figures. But humanitarian groups say at least 160,000 civilians have been displaced.
The rebels are banned as a terrorist group in India, the United States and the European Union.
More than 70,000 people have been killed in the decades of violence.Discuss this story
Published: Wed Oct 15 19:53:55 EDT 2008