Peacekeeping: Dealing With Diehards

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August 24, 2009: Sri Lanka has a unique peacekeeping problem in their own country. Although the Sri Lankan military finally defeated the separatist LTTE Tamil rebels earlier this year (after over two decades of fighting), they know that many of the individual LTTE members have not given up the fight (to partition the island country). Most of those LTTE members are confined to refugee camps, where most civilians in the northern part of the country (about 300,000), where the final battles were fought, are now living. Government officials have been interviewing the people in the camps, who have been living under LTTE control for over a decade, to identify them, and determine where they should be transported, and what help they need. But the interviews are also to determine who is an unrepentant LTTE fighter, and nearly 10,000 of those have been identified so far. The government expects another 10,000 to be found before the interview process is complete (by the end of the year.)

The government has discovered that some of the LTTE members, who did not get captured during the final battles, or swept up with the rest of the Tamil civilians as the military cleared LTTE fighters from the north, have been planning daring attacks to get fellow LTTE fighters out of the refugee camps before they can be identified. Sri Lankan intelligence knows that the overseas LTTE branches are already soliciting expatriate Sri Lankan Tamils for money, so the war can be revived.

The government is proceeding on the assumption that the war will be revived. But the army and police are preparing to suppress the revived war as quickly as possible. The armed forces are expanding from 200,000 to 300,000, and the 75,000 national police are getting new equipment, and new police stations, for the liberated north.

Military and police intelligence have already identified at least 18 armed groups of LTTE fighters (with at least 400 firearms) still on the loose in eastern Sri Lanka, which was liberated from LTTE control two years ago. These groups still carry out attacks on police and Tamils considered "traitors," but this activity is low (several a month), as these surviving LTTE are constantly being hunted by police and soldiers. The security forces expect to eventually round up these remaining LTTE, mainly because there is little support for continued violence among Tamil civilians. A similar situation is expected up north, and the government hopes to be ready for it.

 


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