Sri Lanka: Slipping Into War

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June 23, 2006: Violence in the last two months has left over 700 dead, about half of them civilians, and most of the rest LTTE fighters. The government refuses to send EU truce monitors away. Both sides have refrained from resumption of full scale fighting. But within LTTE territory, the civil war between radical and moderate LTTE factions continues. Both of these factions have resumed forcibly conscripting teenagers to serve as fighters. Many Tamils are sick of all the violence, but it's hard to argue with an armed fanatic. The continued attacks on government forces appear to be an attempt, by the mainline, radical faction of the LTTE, to let their most extreme elements let off steam. Using this, the LTTE has threatened a resumption of suicide attacks if the government does not give in to rebel demands (which are kind of vague at the moment.)

June 22, 2006: The LTTE wants truce monitors from the EU (European Union) to leave, mainly because of the recent EU ban on LTTE activity in Europe (because the LTTE has been declared a terrorist organization.) The LTTE insists it isn't a terrorist organization, and is very dependent on fund raising in the EU (which is now banned).

June 19, 2006: The government has provided rifles and training for 5,000 men in villages bordering LTTE controlled areas in the northeast. In the past, LTTE would raid these border villages for loot, or to drive out Buddhist or Moslem villagers (and claim the area was now "Tamil").

June 18, 2006: Yesterday's violence, which left over fifty dead, was the worst since the February, 2002 truce went into effect. The air force followed up with attacks on known LTTE bases while rebels continued their attacks on naval forces in the northeast. Several civilians were known to have been killed in the cross fire. The LTTE attackers often do not wear uniforms and use civilians for cover.

June 17, 2006: Off the northeast coast, about a dozen LTTE boats, pretending to be fishing boats, attacked navy patrol boats. Three sailors died, eight were wounded and several navy craft were damaged. But eight LTTE boats were sunk, and over 30 rebels killed. Rebel forces also fired from land, and six civilians were killed in the crossfire. Meanwhile, down south, outside the capital, three men were arrested while apparently preparing naval mines. The men had diving equipment and local fishermen called police when the men set off underwater explosions. Two of the men, as is the LTTE custom, took suicide pills before the police could restrain them.

 

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