Sri Lanka: U.K And U.S. Demand Terrorists Be Set Free

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October 10, 2009: LTTE members living outside Sri Lanka have reorganized themselves as victims, and used that to persuade host country officials to pressure Sri Lanka to ease up on efforts to find LTTE members still in Sri Lanka. This effort centers around getting all 250,000 Tamils in the north, immediately freed from the camps they were placed in after the LTTE combat forces were crushed there earlier this year. The LTTE is continuing to use NGOs to pressure the government to immediately shut down the detention camps, and let the LTTE terrorists go free. The government considers this insane and irresponsible, but some diplomats and officials from the U.S. and Britain have taken up the call to halt the screening for terrorists, and just let everyone go.

The government believes there are over 10,000 LTTE fighters and terrorists among the Tamils in those camps, and the government wants to find the LTTE terrorists before they let all their supporters go. The Tamil civilians in the camps provided support for the LTTE for over a decade. The government plans to get 80 percent of them out of the refugee camps by the end of the year, and hope for the best. The LTTE is determined to make a comeback, and eventually partition Sri Lanka, and many Tamils will support this effort any way they can. The government plans to use tribunals to examine as many as 15,000 LTTE members, to identify and imprison the killers, rehabilitate the potential killers and release those who did not commit serious crimes. There are already 3,000 former LTTE members in training programs, to provide them with job skills. India has been a major contributor to the rehabilitation effort, contributing trainers, equipment and supplies. There are also hundreds of Indian deminers helping to clear the thousands of LTTE landmines scattered all over the north. The U.S., Britain, Russia and many other nations have sent aid. But some donors are threatening to cut off the aid if the camps are not immediately shut down.

The situation in some of the Tamil refugee camps is tense, partly because LTTE members want to escape before they can be identified and punished. The government is looking for hundreds of known killers and terrorists, and these people do not want to be found and imprisoned. Thus the refugee camp guards have to be ready for some very violent escape attempts. So far, these have been few, and not many Tamils have broken out of the camps. The hard core LTTE not only have to escape the camps, but also the country. LTTE activists are trying to get India to grant citizenship to LTTE members who escape from Sri Lanka. There's a lot of opposition to this in India, but the proposal has growing support. Foreign governments are alert to efforts to smuggle LTTE terrorists into their countries, where sanctuary, of a sort, is available among Tamil migrants. There are hard line LTTE factions active in most major expatriate Tamil communities in Europe and North America. These groups use coercion and force to extract donations and other support for the LTTE. The host governments fear that LTTE terrorist cells will be set up, and be used for attacks on local targets.

The government is now hiring Tamils for government jobs in the north, including police.

The armed forces recently celebrated their 60th anniversary, noting that the force now (200,000 troops, 14 divisions and 64 brigades) is twenty times the size it was when founded. The defense budget has gone up since the LTTE was defeated, to deal with the search for the thousands of LTTE members who melted into the civilians population, rather than surrender.

The arrest of LTTE leader Selvarajah Pathmanathan in August has resulted in lots of interesting information of LTTE arms smuggling information.  Pathmanathan was long in charge of weapons buying and smuggling, and has apparently been cooperative. For example, it was recently revealed that the LTTE had bought twelve more single engine aircraft, and ten were dismantled and ready for shipment from an airfield in Eritrea. The LTTE had sent at least a dozen men to flight training schools in Malaysia and Indonesia. Only two of these pilots have been caught, and the other ten are believed among the 250,000 refugees. Pathmanathan has apparently also provided information on associates, as Singapore recently arrested a Tamil for gunrunning, and is seeking to extradite him to Sri Lanka. Pathmanathan has apparently provided detailed information on several other key gunrunning operatives, and the government is trying to find these men overseas, and get them arrested.

October 3, 2009: Acting on a tip, police raided a home in central Sri Lanka and found a suicide bomb vest and several assault rifles. No arrests have been made, but the vest and weapons were believed to have been hidden in the house in the last year, in preparation for a suicide bombing that never came off. But the LTTE personnel meant to carry out the attack are believed to still be at large. Nearby, another tip, from a captured LTTE member,  led police to a van containing six bombs, rifle ammo, 100 electric bomb detonators, two remote control bomb devices, six grenades and a pistol.

October 2, 2009: A bomb went off in a school bus in central Sri Lanka, killing one child and wounding twelve others. A soldier from a local base was later arrested. The soldier carried out the bombing because of a feud he was having with the operator of the school bus. Most Sri Lankans are fearful of a new LTTE terror campaign, and there was relief when the soldier was arrested for this attack.

September 25, 2009: In the north, four civilians taking sand from a beach, set off a landmine and were all injured.

 

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