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Cablegate: 2008 Country Reports On Terrorism

R 230819Z DEC 08



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: 2008 Country Reports on Terrorism

REF: STATE 120019

1. (U) Here is the 2008 Country Report on Terrorism for Sri Lanka.
The point of contact for this cable is Ben Barry. His e-mail address


More than 7,000 people were killed and many thousands more displaced
in 2008 as the Sri Lankan government continued its offensive against
the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a designated Foreign
Terrorist Organization. Effective January 16, the government
formally abrogated the 2002 Cease-Fire Accord (CFA) with the LTTE,
and the conflict intensified during the year. The government
maintained control of the Eastern Province, and captured the
strategic town of Pooneryn in November placing the entire
northwestern coast under government control. The LTTE continued to
control a significant, although shrinking, section of the north and
carried out attacks throughout the country. The Sri Lankan Army
remained deployed across the country in all areas it controlled to
fight the insurgency. The Special Task Force (STF) police were
deployed in the east, north and in strategic locations in the west.

In 2008 there were at least 70 attacks attributed to the LTTE
including the October assassination by suicide bombing of the leader
of the opposition in the North Central Provincial Council retired
Major General Janaka Perera, UNP organizer Dr. Raja Johnpulle, and
26 others in Anuradhapura. In April, a suicide bomber killed 14
people in Gampaha district including Minister of Highways Jeyaraj
Fernandopulle. Other major LTTE attacks included air strikes on the
naval base in Trincomalee (August), a combined air-ground assault on
a military base in Vavuniya (September) and the bombing of the
Thallady Army camp in Mannar and Kelanitissa power plant in Colombo
in October. The LTTE also targeted public transportation systems.
In one instance a parcel bomb killed 26 civilians at a bus stand in
Colombo (April). In 2007-8 attacks attributed to the LTTE killed
more than 350 individuals and injured over 1300.

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The government used paramilitary groups to assist its military
forces in fighting the LTTE. The Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal
(TMVP), led by breakaway-LTTE eastern commanders Vinayagamurthi
Muralitharan alias "Karuna" and Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthen alias
"Pillaiyan", operated mostly in the east. Karuna was appointed a
Member of Parliament on October 7; Pillaiyan was elected as the
Chief Minister of the Eastern Provincial Council. The Eelam People's
Democratic Party (EPDP), led by government Minister of Social
Services and Social Welfare Douglas Devananda, operated in Jaffna.
During the year there were numerous killings of civilians by unknown
actors suspected of association with the TMVP or the EPDP.

The government captured the key town of Pooneryn in November and
hoped use the western A32 road and a pontoon bridge to open a land
route to the Jaffna peninsula in 2009. At the end of the year
government forces and the LTTE were engaged in heavy fighting on the
outskirts of the LTTE's administrative capital Kilinochchi. The
LTTE maintained control of a shrinking section of the north and
retained the capacity to mount attacks throughout the country.
The LTTE continued to finance itself with contributions from the
Tamil Diaspora in North America, Europe, and Australia, by imposing
local "taxes" on businesses operating in the areas of Sri Lanka
under its control, and reportedly by extortion operations in
government-controlled areas. The LTTE also used Tamil charitable
organizations as fronts for its fundraising. In November 2007, the
USG designated under Executive Order 13224 and froze the U.S.-held
assets of the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization, a charity
associated with the LTTE. The LTTE previously used such funds for
weapons purchases on the international black market and also
captured arms from Sri Lankan security forces. To date the Sri
Lankan Navy has sunk ten LTTE supply ships. The most recent sinking
occurred in June 2008.

Human rights groups and other observers have accused all parties to
the conflict with carrying out abductions and extrajudicial
killings. The LTTE and the TMVP were charged with forced
conscription and child recruitment. In general, the LTTE did not
intentionally target U.S. citizens or assets, limiting attacks to
Sri Lankan security forces, political figures, civilians, and
businesses. However, attacks occurred within the vicinity of the
U.S. embassy and personnel; in 2007 the U.S. Ambassador was
traveling in a helicopter that came under mortar fire. The LTTE
subsequently apologized for the incident.

The Sri Lankan government continues to be cooperative with U.S. law
enforcement in support of ongoing prosecutions in the U.S. The U.S.
has also provided training for relevant Sri Lankan government
agencies and the banking sector. The Government of Sri Lanka
cooperated with the United States to implement both the Container
Security Initiative and the Megaports program at the port of



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