|USA and EU criticise Tamil Tigers over sea battle
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|Author:||Peter [ Sat May 13, 2006 3:21 pm ]|
|Post subject:||USA and EU criticise Tamil Tigers over sea battle|
LTTE poses war risk to Lanka: US
Copyright © IBNLive.com / Reuters
Posted Saturday , May 13, 2006
Washington: The United States on Friday condemned an attack on a Sri Lankan naval vessel by separatist Tamil Tigers, warning the violence risked returning the South Asian island nation to civil war.
According to a statement by assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian Affairs, Richard Boucher, "We are deeply concerned about the escalating violence by the Tamil Tigers, which has put Sri Lanka at risk of a return to war".
"We urge the government of Sri Lanka to continue to show restraint in the face of these provocations," said the statement, issued by a spokesman for Boucher.
A flotilla of Tamil Tiger rebel boats on Thursday attacked a Sri Lankan navy transport ship carrying hundreds of servicemen and sank a navy fast-attack boat in the worst military confrontation since a 2002 truce.
The military said 17 sailors and 50 Tigers died in the attack that prompted airstrikes on rebel territory.
The clash came after a rash of attacks in April, one of the bloodiest months since the 2002 cease-fire halted a war that killed over 64,000 people since 1983.
The Tigers are fighting for a separate homeland for ethnic Tamils in the north and east.
The transporter was carrying a truce monitor and flying the monitors' flag when the military says suicide rebels attacked it.
The Tigers say their fighters were conducting a naval exercise when they were fired on by the navy.
The monitors accused the Tigers of a gross violation of the cease-fire and said they had no rights at sea, which is considered under government control.
Boucher called the attacks "a clear violation of the cease-fire agreement between the government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers."
EU criticises Sri Lanka Tigers over sea battle, warns on escalation
@ LBO / 13 May 2006 11:55:49
By Amal Jayasinghe
May 13, 2006 (AFP) - The European Union criticised Sri Lankan rebels Saturday for staging a deadly sea attack and warned that the escalation in violence could wreck any chance of returning to peace talks.
The statement came two days after a Tamil Tiger suicide attack on a navy gunboat that killed its 18-man crew, dealing a telling blow to efforts to preserve a four-year ceasefire agreement now in tatters.
The 25-member EU, which has already placed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on notice of a possible ban against them, said the escalation of violence undermined the prospects for opening Sri Lankan peace talks.
"The reckless behaviour of the LTTE in the last days can only contribute to a dangerous escalation that results in growing hostilities and jeopardises any possibility for future peace talks," the EU said in a statement.
It also urged the Sri Lankan government to show "as much restraint as possible" following Thursday's sinking of a navy gun boat that was escorting a ship transporting 710 soldiers to the Jaffna peninsula.
The EU statement came after UN Secretary General Kofi Annan made a fresh appeal to Sri Lanka's government and Tamil rebels to end violence and resume Norwegian-brokered peace talks.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday Annan was "disturbed by the news of major sea and aerial attacks in Sri Lanka, including an attack on a vessel that had unarmed international monitors on board."
The LTTE, meanwhile, have rejected a ceasefire ruling against them by Scandanavian ceasefires monitors and demanded "sovereign rights" as Sri Lanka's military hunt for the bodies of the 18 people killed in the sea battle.
"Nobody has the right to pass judgement on the sovereign rights of our access to the adjacent sea and airspace of our homeland," said remarks posted on the pro-rebel tamilnet.com website.
The LTTE insisted they would operate naval and air wings and criticized ceasefire monitors for ruling against their launching of the offensive against the Sri Lankan navy.
"The ceasefire agreement is what stands between Sri Lankans and outright war which neither side can win and which the vast majority of Sri Lankans - regardless of ethnic group - desperately want to avoid," the EU said.
"The voice of that majority should now be heard."
The EU slapped travel restrictions on the LTTE after the group was held responsible for the August assassination of Sri Lanka's foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.
In October, the EU warned that the Tigers could face an EU-wide ban unless they gave up the use of terror and resumed peace negotiations with the Sri Lankan government.
"We entered the peace process based on a status-quo achieved in the battlefield in our territory," the head of the LTTE political wing S. P. Thamilselvan told truce monitors at the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi.
The government has condemned the attack and appealed to the international community to "look at the Tigers in a different light."
"Tigers have mocked the Japanese and the rest of the international community with this major attack a day after the Japanese envoy (Yasushi Akashi) left the country," said Palitha Kohona, head of Colombo's Peace Secretariat.
The Tigers said they were concerned the Scandinavian Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) had not blamed the government for military air strikes that followed the rebel sinking of the gunboat.
Thursday's air strikes followed earlier attacks on Tiger positions on April 25 in retaliation for a rebel suicide blast that wounded army chief Sarath Fonseka and killed 11.
Violence escalated last December, and April proved the deadliest month since the truce began with at least 191 deaths, mostly civilians, the monitors say.
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