Attrition: Blood Island

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December 15, 2006: One of the less noticed wars going on these days is taking place in Sri Lanka (just south of India), where a four years old cease fire between the government and ethnic (Tamil) separatists has finally broken down. This year, so far, there have been nearly 4,000 deaths (24 percent civilians, 19 percent government forces and 57 percent rebels). The year before, there had only been 330 deaths (about half of them civilians). In 2004 there were 109 deaths, with 59 in 2003 and 15 in 2002. In 2001, when the war was still going on, there were 1,822 deaths, and in 2000, 3791 dead. The fighting in 2000-2001 made it clear to the government that they had a deadlock on their hands. But four years of negotiations didn't break the deadlock, and the rebels grew weaker because of an internal split. One rebel faction wanted to accept autonomy, instead of partition of the island. The majority faction wants to fight on. But the government is better prepared, and it looks like the next year will be the bloodiest ever. The fighting has been going on since 1972, and left over 60,000 dead so far.

 


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