22 LTTE suicide cadres killed in air raid: Sri Lanka

July 22nd, 2008 - 4:53 pm ICT by IANS  


Colombo, July 22 (IANS) At least 22 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) suicide cadres, known as Black Tigers, were killed Tuesday in an air raid by the Sri Lankan Air Force on the rebel-held Mullaitivu district, the defence ministry said. Sri Lankan Air Force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said: “The group of slain LTTE cadres were engaged in a rehearsal of a major suicide operation at the time of the air raid.”

The air force bombed a suspected training camp of the LTTE at Udayarkattukulam.

“The targeted camp was providing training for LTTE cadres in special operations. Activities in the terror camp had significantly increased recently,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

There was no immediate reaction from the Tamil Tiger rebels in this regard.

The fresh air raid came barely a few hours after the rebels offered a 10-day truce from July 26 to Aug 4 to coincide with the summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), which begins here Aug 2.

The Tigers’ political wing said in a statement e-mailed to the media Monday night that it was always keen to develop friendship with countries around the world, especially neighbouring countries.

“We wish to express the goodwill and trust of the Tamil people. As a sign of this goodwill, our movement is glad to inform that it will observe a unilateral ceasefire that is devoid of military actions during the period of the Saarc conference from July 26 to Aug 4 and give our cooperation for the success of the conference,” it said.

It added that if the government carried out military operations, “disrespecting the goodwill gesture of our people and our nation, our movement will be forced to take defensive actions”.

A Sri Lankan minister Tuesday expressed scepticism about the truce offer and said the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa was unlikely to accept it.

“I do not think that the government will fall into this trap, because we have enough experience with these kinds of offers of ceasefire from the LTTE in the past 30 to 40 years,” defence spokesperson Keheliya Rambukwella told IANS.

“Our (the government) position is very clear that we can consider any such truce offer from the LTTE only (when it lays) down their weapons,” he added.

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