Sri Lanka: April 20, 2004


rebellion among the rebels. 

The LTTE has defeated the breakaway faction on the east coast of the island. But most of the 6,000 LTTE fighters in the east have now deserted and gone back to their families. The LTTE leadership is offering amnesty for those fighters who backed the deposed rebel leader Karuna. But this little civil war appears to have cut rebel combat strength by a quarter or a third. 

In the past, the LTTE was pretty ruthless with dissent or desertion, killing those suspected of being less than totally loyal to the Tamil cause. But this time around, a much more accommodating approach is being used. This is because there are major differences in attitudes among the Tamils of the northeast and the east. The LTTE leadership has apparently concluded that they cannot use their usual approach of terrorizing people to deal with it.

The LTTE is also under great pressure from the UN, foreign aid groups and many Tamils, to let go teenagers kidnapped and forced to become armed fighters for the cause. In the past week, several hundred of these kids have been allowed to go home. But the losses from the recent internal clash with LTTE dissidents on the east coast puts the leadership under more pressure to recruit kids. The newly elected government is more hard line towards LTTE demands for autonomy and


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