Sri Lanka: October 10, 2003

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prime minister, whose party has the majority of members in parliament.

The government admitted that the LTTE rebels had doubled their military power since the ceasefire went into effect last February. Most of the buildup has been in eastern Sri Lanka, where the government has always had more control over the local Tamil population than in the north. The rebels have not been popular with UN peace observers, as rebel units have openly kidnapped children to serve in new rebel combat units. Some 45 more moderate Tamil leaders have been killed by rebels in the last six months and Moslem minority populations in eastern Sri Lanka have suffered increasing violence. Nevertheless, the government says its army is ready for any renewed rebel offensive. That may not be too long in coming, as the rebels are still insisting on independence, not autonomy, for majority Tamil areas. The native Sinhalese, who are Buddhist, fear that the Tamil (who are Hindus) attacks on Sri Lankan Moslems will trigger the involvement of Islamic radicals and still more

 

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