Tue, May 23, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Women slam LTTE's use of female bombers

CONDEMNATION While a group of women rallied against the Tigers' use of `pregnant women' as suicide bombers, suspected rebels attacked three international aid groups

AP , COLOMBO

Activists of Sri Lanka's All Party Women's Congress demonstrate to condemn the use of pregnant mothers as suicide bombers by the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in Colombo yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

About 100 women protested in Sri Lanka's capital yesterday against the use of female suicide bombers by separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.

"We condemn the use of women, especially pregnant women," said Dulcy de Silva, a spokeswoman for Sri Lanka's All Party Women's Congress.

Last month, a female suicide bomber attempted to assassinate the country's top military general by using the fact that she appeared pregnant to avoid security checks at the military headquarters in the country's capital.

Investigators have not yet determined whether the woman was actually pregnant, but reports that she deliberately became pregnant to infiltrate the compound have circulated widely in Sri Lanka.

At least 13 people, including the bomber, were killed in the attack, but the target, Major General Sarath Fonseka, escaped with serious injuries.

The rebels, formally named the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), began fighting the government in 1983 for a separate homeland for ethnic Tamils. The Tiger suicide unit, known as the Black Tigers, has carried out some 75 suicide attacks, with an estimated one third by women.

"It is pathetic that the LTTE has been using women as suicide bombers and they are now using pregnant women as suicide bombers," Silva said.

"We don't want anybody to be killed ... whether they are Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims," she told a crowd of about 100 people gathered at Colombo's main park for the protest.

Meanwhile, suspected rebels attacked the offices of three international aid groups in what appeared to be their first assault on foreigners, the army said.

Tamil separatists denied the allegation.

A breakaway rebel faction also said on Sunday that it had killed at least 10 mainstream Tamil rebel fighters and a top commander in separate attacks in the east.

Four other people were also killed in spiraling violence that has threatened to push the island nation back into civil war.

Suspected militants simultaneously attacked the offices of the three aid organizations in the town of Mutur in the Trincomalee District on Sunday, throwing hand grenades into the buildings, said military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe.

In an attack at the office of Nonviolent Peaceforce -- an international group that promotes nonviolent conflict resolution -- a Serbian aid worker and two passers-by were wounded, area police chief Nihal Samrakoon said.

There were no injuries reported in the attacks on ZOA, a Dutch agency helping refugees, and Intersos, an Italian relief organization, Samarasinghe said.

He said he believed the Tamil Tigers were behind the attack.

The motive for the attack on the foreign groups, which have been providing assistance to refugees from the war and the 2004 tsunami, was not immediately clear.

However, government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said the attack appeared to be in response to mounting international pressure on the Tamil Tigers.

In recent days, European diplomats have indicated that the EU plans to join the US and Britain in adding the Tamil Tigers to its list of terrorist organizations.

"The timing of the attack is significant," Rambukwella said. "These are desperate moves by the LTTE and this may be a result of the pressure that has been building in the international community."

Rambukwella said this was the first deliberate attack against foreigners.

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