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Talk to the Tigers, TNA tells Colombo

B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has chosen not to respond formally to the offer made by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for dialogue on resolution of the ethnic conflict even as two more persons were killed in continuing violence in the north and east.

A Member of Parliament of the TNA has been quoted in the local media as saying that since they fought the election on the slogan that the LTTE is the "sole representative" of the Tamils, the Government should hold talks with the Tigers.

Even while continuing with its strategy of neutralising the military assets of the LTTE "wherever they exist," the Government has several times reiterated its call for a conditional dialogue.

The Government wants the Tigers to renounce violence, lay down arms albeit in a phased manner and be prepared to join the political dialogue for resolution of the conflict as one of the representatives of Tamils. The Rajapaksa Government has categorically rejected the claim of the Tigers to be the sole representative of the Tamils. In his Independence Day speech on Sunday, Mr. Rajapaksa said that while the Sinhalese and the Government are not ready to give in to the "blood thirsty demands" of the LTTE, they are prepared to concede reasonable demands articulated by TULF leader V. Anandasangaree and Minister Douglas Devananda on behalf of the Tamils.

Army camp attacked

In a statement, the Defence Ministry said suspected Tamil Tigers hit an army camp in the northern town of Vavuniya. "This was the third successive attack by the LTTE at the security forces," it said.

Separately, the LTTE alleged that for three days in a row Mullaithivu fishermen were attacked by Sri Lankan Navy. It said villages in Batticaloa, Kayamadhu, Kurinchamunai and Mankikaddu were continually attacked with artillery by the military. "Many civilian settlements are being deliberately targeted. People are displaced."

The LTTE further said that from February 3 midnight and throughout the next day, the military continued to fire artillery shells and rockets into LTTE areas.

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