Tue, Jul 13, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Tamils warn of violence

REUTERS , COLOMBO

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers accused the government yesterday of thrusting a war on them by using a rival rebel faction to weaken their forces and said they were ready to return to the battlefield.

The warning came less than a week after a suicide bomb blast blamed on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) killed five people at a police station in the capital, Colombo.

The LTTE says the military is aiding a rebel faction led by a breakaway eastern fighter known as Karuna, and is complicit in ongoing violence in his homebase of Batticaloa.

"This would make it plain to the Tamil people that the Sri Lankan state is not interested at all in taking forward the peace process but is only bent on using the talks and the cease-fire to wage a terrorist war on us," said E. Kausalyan, head of the Tigers' political wing in Batticaloa, on the Tamilnet Web site.

"We are ready to face the war that the Sri Lankan state has decided to thrust on us thus," he said.

But Kausalyan stopped short of saying the rebels would break the Norwegian-brokered truce that has held since 2002 and given the island its best chance to end the war that killed 64,000 over more than two decades.

Defense Secretary Cyril Herath said security forces were under strict instructions to stick to the cease-fire and denied they were involved with Karuna.

"Karuna's people can act on their own -- they don't need help," he said. "The instructions we have given to security forces is that they should in no way in word or deed do anything to perpetrate violence."

Nordic monitors overseeing the truce said they met the Tigers' political wing in the rebel-held north on Sunday, but it was a routine meeting not prompted by the surprise bombing.

"They have indicated they are still committed. They want to res-pect the cease-fire agreement," spokeswoman Disa Finnboga said.

Police said the target of the suicide blast was Tamil government minister Douglas Devananda, an outspoken critic of the Tigers.

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