Sri Lanka dismisses LTTE’s truce overturesNovember 10th, 2008 - 12:37 pm ICT by IANS
Colombo, Nov 10 (IANS) The Sri Lankan government has dismissed the Tamil Tigers’ reiteration of their readiness to observe a cessation of hostilities as a “trap”, saying that any truce would be considered only after the rebels are disarmed, a media report here said Monday.Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, Sri Lanka’s defence spokesperson, was quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror that the people of the island nation “have had enough experience of the LTTE’s (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) double standards with regard to ceasefires”.
“Any ceasefire is possible only after the LTTE lays down arms and gives up terrorism. The Mahinda Rajapaksa government is not ready to let down our countrymen by falling into LTTE’s trap,” Rambukwella said in response to the LTTE’s latest call for truce.
The minister added that the ongoing military thrust against the LTTE was launched after “the LTTE tried to assassinate defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and army commander Sarath Fonseka, and also killed a large number of civilians and military personnel”.
Following reports of Tamil Nadu leaders seeking clarification on LTTE’s stand on ceasefire, the pro-LTTE Tamilnet website reported Sunday that the rebel group’s political wing head B. Nadesan had reiterated that the outfit wanted a cessation of hostilities with the Sri Lankan government.
“There is no hesitation on our side to reiterate our position that we have always wanted a ceasefire. It is the government of Sri Lanka that unilaterally abrogated the ceasefire,” Nadesan was quoted as saying.
Nadesan told Tamilnet Saturday that the LTTE “were only fighting a defensive war since Colombo has thrust upon Tamils an aggressive war”.
The latest announcement by the LTTE came during the month the Tigers commemorate their fallen cadres and the week-long event culminates with the annual speech by rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, which is considered the policy statement of the outfit for the coming year.
The LTTE has been fighting against the Sri Lankan government to carve out a separate state for Tamils in the northern and eastern parts of the island for a quarter century.
Sri Lankan troops backed by artillery and aerial bombardments have advanced deep into the rebel-held areas amid fierce LTTE resistance. Vowing to capture the rebel-stronghold of Kilinochchi, the military brass claimed last week that troops were operating just a few kilometres away from Kilinochchi town, which is about 350 km from Colombo.
Thousands have died and many more have been displaced due to escalating fighting between the army and LTTE since late 2005.