Sri Lanka: July 28, 1999


Driving off police guards, Tamil rebels destroyed a communications tower, as part of their offensive against government infrastructure and the Sri Lankan economy.

July 27; A number of clashes between Tamil rebels and government forces left 25 Tamil Tigers, two soldiers and four civilians dead.

July 26; The Tamil Tigers have begun using drive by shootings, especially in high security areas.

July 25; A Tamil suicide bomber destroyed a 310 seat ferry (empty at the time.) One crew member was killed. Fighting elsewhere killed 12 rebels and three soldiers in the previous 48 hours. The Tamil Tigers have stepped up attacks against merchant shipping in the area. Sometimes they board and take control of ships, at other times ships are simply attacked with machine-guns, rockets and explosives. The government has bombed shipping in "off limits" sea zones used by the rebels to bring in military supplies.

July 20; Despite the ongoing rebellion, Sri Lanka is still a functioning democracy and the opposition parties are protesting the use of troops to break up rallies calling government and police reforms. The government has been heavy handed with journalists through most of the 1990s as the military pressure on the rebels increased.

July 18; Over the last few days, army patrols continue to run into Tamil rebels, and several sharp fights take place each day. The death toll is continuing to be about a dozen people a day, mostly Tamil rebels.

July 15; Fighting picked up again in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, leaving to Tamil rebels and three soldiers dead.

Fighting continued during the first week of July, looses appeared to be about a hundred for the government and over 200 for the Tamil Tigers. During the advance, government troops found a stockpile of 750 antipersonnel mines in the village of Pallamadu.

The government was also talking to Russia about buying three warships to patrol the seas north of Sri Lanka, to keep out Tamil supply movements. It was also reported that Sri Lanka wanted to buy two more Mi-24 gunships.

A five million dollar UN mine clearing operation has finally gotten under way. It was delayed for nearly two years by government demands the precautions be taken so that the Tamil Tigers do not get their hands on the mine clearing technology.

In early June, President Chandrika Kumaratunga vowed to end the war by August 2000 by implementing her radical reform package to grant autonomy to Tamils (which she does not have enough backing in parliament to pass, and it is opposed by the influential Buddhist clergy). Over 80,000 people have been killed in thirty years of violence with Tamil separatists and communist rebels. A Human rights group complained that the rebels are forcing military training on civilians, including children, in order to create a militia to oppose the government. The country has been under a form of martial law since 1983. The government began a diplomatic effort to get countries to curtail rebel logistic and fiscal activities in their countries. Sri Lanka asked India to increase patrols in the straits between the two countries to help further curtail rebel supplies and personnel from transiting between the two.

The rebels assassinated the leader of a rival "Razeek Group", and a member of the Tamil People's Democratic Party (EPDP). The EPDP was one of two parties the government disarmed for inter-party violence on 18 May. Troops killed five rebels as the government disarmed two Tamil political parties due to recent inter-party violence that left seven dead. On May 20th On May 30th, Sri Lanka announced plans to build a new temple complex to Lord Vishnu in hopes divine intervention will end the conflict. The next day, rebels killed a politician of the Tamil People's Democratic Party (EPDP).

On June 1st, Tamil Tigers attacked a van and killed 11 civilians and wounded seven. On June 10th the government began another brigade size offensive against Tamil Tiger strongholds around the town of Paranthan. Sixteen government troops and 45 guerillas were killed on the first day. After three days of fighting, thirty villages in an area of 358 square kilometers have been taken. After a few days the fighting died down, with the Tamils withdrawing. Total deaths were about 100. On June 27th, the government began another division size offensive in the Mannar district. The fighting was more violent than the earlier action, with nearly 200 dead in the first two days. By June 29th the death toll exceeded 350. >

June saw the heaviest fighting this year. In the past 18 months, the government has lost 1,500 dead, and the Tamil Tigers some 1,300. The Tigers are on the defensive and are seeking to work out a peace agreement.


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