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Tamil Tigers: The truth is out today

The truth is out today

The Tamil Tigers have reacted furiously to Colonel Karuna's interview, which was broadcast on SLBC after being recorded in London by a Tamil group opposed to them. Colonel Karuna was also interviewed separately by the BBC.

"Most certainly we can define the current status as the lowest ebb in the entire process ... because of various actions of the government and the forces," the leader of the Tigers' political wing SP Thamilselvan said.

Contacts flaunted

Mr Thamilselvan warned that the country was "drifting back to war," while the organisation's eastern political wing leader E Kousalyan said in a statement that the state had provided facilities to Colonel Karuna "with the obvious aim of destroying the mutual goodwill on which the ceasefire is based."

We are ready to face the war that the Sri Lankan state has decided to thrust on us

Tamil Tiger's eastern political wing leader E Kousalyan

"The truth is out today beyond any doubt that the Sri Lankan state is providing him with state facilities to wage a proxy war of black propaganda against the Tamil Tigers and to carry out terrorist attacks with the assistance Sri Lankan military intelligence to derail the ceasefire," he said.

The BBC correspondent in Colombo says that there is no sense of panic in southern Sri Lanka, despite the suicide bombing in the heart of the capital last week

Hotel shares went up the day after the bombing and within 24 hours the glass windows in the bombed police station were repaired, and everything was back to normal.

The Tigers say a war of "black propaganda" is being waged against them

However, President Kumaratunga has expressed concern over last week's suicide bombing and incidents of violence in the east - which, it is believed, is being waged between supporters of Colonel Karuna's faction and the mainstream Tamil Tigers.

Our correspondent says the SLBC interview with Colonel Karuna indicates that there could be considerable support for him in the government, because the station is normally heavily controlled.

She says that while a Tamil government minister, Douglas Devenanda, flaunts his contacts with Colonel Karuna to the media, the military and government say they have no idea where is.

It is clear is that this approach is antagonising the Tigers, she says, and there is no sign yet of attempts by the government to defuse the tension.

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July 12 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam said the government is using a breakaway rebel faction to try to weaken its forces and that the Tigers are ready to resume their two-decade-long civil war. ``We are ready to face the war that the Sri Lankan state has decided to thrust on us,'' E. Kousalyan, the head of the group's political wing in the east of the country, said on the TamilNet Web site. ``The Sri Lankan state is not interested at all in taking forward the peace process.''

The government is ``openly promoting'' renegade rebel commander Colonel Karuna, whose forces broke away from the main Liberation Tigers in March, Kousalyan said. President Chandrika Kumaratunga has denied her government supports the colonel.

The dispute over Colonel Karuna has prevented Norway from being able to broker a resumption of peace talks between the rebels and government. The Liberation Tigers broke off the talks in April last year. The two sides have maintained a cease-fire since February 2002.

The Liberation Tigers denounced the government for allowing state radio to broadcast an interview with Karuna. The government is ``providing him with state radio facilities to attack the Tigers with the obvious aim of destroying the mutual goodwill on which the cease-fire is based,'' Kousalyan said.

The rebels said last week the government was allowing supporters of Karuna to carry out attacks on members of the Liberation Tigers in eastern areas controlled by security forces.

The Tamil Tigers began a campaign for a separate homeland in 1983. At least 60,000 people have died during the conflict that has devastated the north and east of the country.

-------------------------------------------------------------------- We consider the attack in Colombo on 7th July 2004 to be one of the operations of some elements who are working to disrupt the peace efforts between the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam. We strongly condemn this act, which could, confuse the people who are hoping for peace, and disrupt the prevailing peaceful environment.

It is well known that as a result of activities by armed groups, aimed at disrupting the peace efforts, our cadres and civilians are being killed in the east. We strongly believe that these groups are operating with the help of the Sri Lankan military intelligence unit and the SriLankan Armed Forces. We have informed the SriLankan government, through the Norwegians and the SLMM, that the peaceful environment can be preserved only if the military intelligence wing and the security forces halt all assistance given to these armed groups.

We are suspecting that it is, the granting of refuge to these groups, and the permission given to them to act freely, in Colombo that has paved the way for yesterday's attack in Colombo.

Clause 1.8 of the ceasefire agreement states that all armed groups in NorthEast must be disarmed. Accordingly all these armed groups involved in disruptive activities must be disarmed immediately. We request that, the Sri Lanka military intelligence unit and the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, act according to the rules of the ceasefire agreement, and stop all such activities aimed at disrupting the peace efforts, and create an environment amiable for the peace efforts soon.

We like to reiterate again at this juncture, that as one of the signatory to the ceasefire agreement, we will, preserve the environment for the peace efforts, and abide by the ceasefire agreement.

-------------------------------------------------------------------- COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lanka's Tiger rebels said they would boycott truce monitoring meetings with the Sri Lankan military until it stops harbouring breakaway rebel leader V. Muralitharan, also known as Karuna.

AFP/File Photo

"The future of the ceasefire agreement and the peace talks is not in our hands now," the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's (LTTE) political wing leader S.P. Thamilselvan told reporters.

"It is in the hands of the Sri Lankan army, truce monitors and the Norwegian (peace) facilitators."

The Tigers made their position clear to Norwegian-led truce monitors who rushed to the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi Monday for emergency talks to protect the ceasefire that has been in place since February 2002.

"The Liberation Tigers will not recommence meetings with the Sri Lanka army while the government and its military continue to harbour Karuna and continue to instigate murder and confusion in (the eastern district of) Batticaloa," Thamilselvan was quoted as saying in the pro-rebel Tamilnet website.

"We have very reliable evidence that the Sri Lanka army is using Karuna as a pretext to murder and to create mayhem in Batticaloa," Thamilselvan said. "We have indubitable proof that he is working with the Sri Lankan military intelligence."

Diplomatic sources said the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) was deeply concerned with the Tiger withdrawal on the eve of fresh attempts by peace broker Norway to get the stalled negotiations back on track.

Norway's special peace envoy, Erik Solheim, was due in Colombo later Monday to launch a renewed attempt to jumpstart peace talks that have been on hold since April last year, diplomats said.

The government admitted Thursday that elements of the military had supported Karuna despite LTTE warnings that capitalising on the Tamil Tiger split could push the country back to war.

"Obviously, there have been military personnel involved ... that we cannot deny," government spokesman Mangala Samaraweera said.

Karuna had led a split within the Tigers, accusing the LTTE's northern-based leadership of ignoring Tamils in eastern Sri Lanka.

Karuna went underground in April and disbanded 5,000 to 6,000 fighters under his command after the LTTE leadership sent in forces to crush the renegades.

The Tigers said there have been "problems and confusion" in connection with the ceasefire agreement after the government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga came to power at the April elections.

-------------------------------------------------------------- By Frances Harrison BBC correspondent in Colombo

Colonel Karuna was also helped by an opposition MP The Sri Lankan Government has admitted members of the army helped a top rebel defector escape and wage a covert war of attrition against the Tamil Tigers. The Information Minister Mangala Samaraweera said an informal inquiry was being held into the incident.

He described it as "rather disturbing" and an attempt to sabotage the peace process.

The whereabouts of Colonel Karuna, who until recently was second in command of the Tigers, is still not clear.

Army safe-houses

He broke from his organisation four months ago and, after a brief spell of internecine fighting, vanished.

The latest developments come as the government tries to start the peace process Now an opposition MP has admitted he transported Colonel Karuna from his jungle hideout to the capital.

Rebel fighters who were with Colonel Karuna, but escaped, say he has been in hiding in army safe-houses in Colombo for more that two months, masterminding a series of killings of rebels and their supporters in an attempt to weaken the Tigers.

All this while the government has been trying to re-start the peace process.

Obviously, there have been military personnel involved. I mean that we cannot deny, but not with the knowledge or connivance of the government

Information Minister Mangala Samaraweera

After repeated denials from the army that they had anything to do with Colonel Karuna, the information minister has now admitted military personnel were involved.

However, he stressed this was without the knowledge of the government.

Indeed, the minister says this assistance to a rebel defector was actually a plot by the opposition to sabotage the government's chances of doing a peace deal with the Tamil Tigers.

For its part, the opposition has denied any knowledge of what its MP was up to, and the MP in question, Ali Zahir Mowlana, has resigned.

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