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Retaliatory strike by Tigers, says army

V.S. Sambandan

Internecine bloodletting goes on


Killings since 2004
  • March 3, 2004: `Col'. Karuna revolts against LTTE
  • April 12, 2004: `Col'. Militarily forced out by LTTE from east
  • Number of LTTE cadres and supporters killed: 115
  • Number of Karuna's cadres and supporters killed: 90

    COLOMBO: At least seven Tamil rebel fighters were killed in Sri Lanka's continued internecine bloodletting. While five of those killed were from the Tamil National Force (TNF) loyal to the former LTTE special commander, V. Muralitharan (`Col.' Karuna), at least two LTTE cadres were reportedly killed in the incident, which took place at 1.00 a.m. on Thursday.

    The LTTE has neither claimed nor commented on the incident. The Sri Lankan military said the incident could be a possible "retaliatory strike" by the Tigers on the supporters of `Col.' Karuna.

    According to TNF sources, two of the five Karuna loyalists were from the Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF), an ally of `Col.' Karuna's TamilEela Makkal Viduthalai Munnani.

    The LTTE has not commented on the incident.

    The killings took place at Siruvila in the north-central Polonnaruwa district, near the Batticaloa — the erstwhile stronghold of the `Col.' Karuna. The latest killings take the death toll in the year-long bloodshed after last year's rebellion by `Col.' Karuna past the 200-mark.

    Reports differ on the number of persons killed and the mode of Thursday's attack, with the Sri Lanka Army saying it heard of no evidence of gunfight, while `Col. Karuna's supporters asserted that there was an "hour-long confrontation with semi-automatic weapons."

    As Thursday's attack is a year after the LTTE overthrew `Col.' Karuna's forces from Batticaloa on April 12, 2004 after a three-day frontal assault, it is seen as a "commemorative event" and hence, had not taken the Sri Lankan defence by surprise.

    "The clash between them is going on for more than a year; this is a continuation of the same thing in another form.

    They [the LTTE] want to show they are powerful," the Sri Lankan military spokesperson, Daya Ratnayake, told The Hindu .

    Joint mechanism

    The Sri Lankan President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, on Thursday said the proposed joint mechanism between Colombo and the LTTE will be "a foundation" to find a solution to the island-nation's decades-long separatist conflict. In her message to mark the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, which was celebrated across the island on Thursday, she urged the people to "shed all differences and resolve to re-build the nation in unity." The joint mechanism is aimed at providing reconstruction aid to the tsunami-affected regions, she said.

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