Sri Lanka says army aided renegade rebels
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s military was involved in helping a breakaway rebel faction, the government said on Thursday in comments likely to erode trust with the Tamil Tigers rebels as they seek to restart a stalled peace bid.
But it denied accusations by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that the army as a whole was complicit. Elements of the military had acted on their own to help eastern rebel commander Karuna after he broke from the main rebel group, the government said. “Obviously there has been military personnel involved. That we cannot deny,” cabinet spokesman Mangala Samaraweera told a news conference.
But the government itself was not involved, he said.
“I wish to state categorically that the government has had no direct or indirect involvement with the breakaway LTTE faction.”
The military has also repeatedly denied its involvement.
But that is likely to do little to placate the Tigers, who already distrust the minority government elected early in April and say President Chandrika Kumaratunga — who is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces — has not been sincere about efforts to restart talks to end two decades of civil war. The Tigers have made no official comment but monitors overseeing the February 2002 truce that halted the fighting confirmed the rebels had suspended regular meetings with the government in the east. “The LTTE has cancelled all meetings with the government in Batticaloa-Amapara. It’s because of this Karuna affair,” said Disa Finnboga, spokeswoman for the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission. reuters