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Ceasefire under threat as LTTE pulls out of East Lanka
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Author:  Peter [ Fri Jul 15, 2005 1:22 am ]
Post subject:  Ceasefire under threat as LTTE pulls out of East Lanka

Ceasefire under threat as LTTE pulls out of East Lanka

PK Balachandran
Colombo, July 14, 2005|18:34 IST


In a major move, which might have far reaching consequences for the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), the LTTE has withdrawn its political workers from government-controlled areas in the Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts in Eastern Sri Lanka saying that they have no security there.

Reports reaching Colombo said that the unarmed political workers had left the trouble districts of Batticaloa and Trincomalee for nearby LTTE-controlled areas on Wednesday.

This step follows the killing of two top LTTE naval officers in Trincomalee by a rival Tamil militant group, allegedly in cahoots with the Sri Lankan army intelligence. Earlier, in late June, there had been an unsuccessful landmine attack on a bus carrying 40 LTTE cadres in Welikanda in Polonnoruwa district.

After the landmine attack, which had targeted Kuyilinpan, the LTTE's Amparai district political leader, the LTTE gave an ultimatum to the Sri Lankan government saying that if proper security was not arranged within 14 days, it would organise its own security for its cadres on the move.

The ultimatum, which was like saying that the Ceasefire Agreement would become a dead letter, expires on July 14 (Thursday).

In a move to avert war, the government agreed to the LTTE's stipulation that army escort troops should also travel by the vehicles used by LTTE cadres. The idea was to deter rival Tamil groups, allegedly in cahoots with the army, from attacking the vehicle.

But before the LTTE could reply to the government's letter, there was serious trouble in Trincomalee. Two top LTTE naval officers, Dikkan and Kumaran Master, were killed by rival Tamil militants in Selvanagapuram in Trincomalee. Once again the LTTE blamed the army for it.

As per the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) of February 2002, the LTTE is allowed to do political and developmental work in government-controlled areas but only if they are unarmed.

But the unarmed cadres of the LTTE have been sitting ducks for armed anti-LTTE groups like the one led by Karuna, who had broken away from the LTTE in March 2004. The LTTE has lost a lot of men including its Batticaloa political wing leader Kousalyan to Karuna's snipers. The LTTE has also been killings its rivals and army and police intelligence personnel.

Political observers say that given the highly unstable political climate in Sri Lanka, with fresh parliamentary and Presidential elections expected at the end of 2005 or early 2006, the LTTE will step up its pressure on the government on various issues, including its security. It may also indulge in sabre rattling to queer the pitch.

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