Fri, Mar 24, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Tamil Tigers say Colombo endangering tenuous truce

AFP AND AP , COLOMBO

The Tamil Tiger rebels yesterday accused Sri Lanka of endangering efforts to end ethnic bloodshed by imposing fresh conditions on their political activity.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said the government had forbidden the rebels from flying their own flags on offices they want to re-open in military-held areas of the island's north-east, and had said children should not take part in Tiger celebrations.

The guerrillas who closed their political offices amid an escalation of violence late last year had wanted to go back after last month's talks at a Swiss village where they agreed to scale down attacks against each other.

"The army does not want us to have our own flag at our political offices and wants to prohibit children taking part in our celebrations," a Tiger official in the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi said when contacted by telephone.

He said the conditions were unacceptable and were a violation of the agreements reached in Switzerland.

Tiger rebels raising their own flag in government-held areas has been an emotive issue in the past and has led to several clashes.

"We reject the concept of anybody laying conditions for our members doing political work with our people," the LTTE's political wing leader S.P. Thamilselvan said in a letter to Scandinavian truce monitors.

"Geneva talks and the understanding ensued therein is totally nullified by this stance of the SriLankan government," Thamilselvan said in his letter published on the rebels' official Web site.

There was no immediate reaction from the government.

The two sides during their talks in Switzerland agreed to scale down violence and meet again next month to discuss the implementation of their tenuous truce that has been in place since February 2002.

In related developments, unidentified gunmen killed a prominent Tamil businessman and one of his staff members in the north, police and the military said yesterday, in the latest flare-up of violence in the troubled region.

The killings occurred late on Wednesday near the town of Vavuniya, military spokesman Brigadier Sudhir Samarasinghe said.

He said he had no details about the assailants or their possible motive.

A police official reached by telephone in Vavuniya said police were probing whether the killings were related to the Tamil Tigers.

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