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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sri Lanka's PM: Tamil Tiger terrorists being trained in India

Suthirtho Patranobis [Hindustan Times]

The Sri Lankan government on Tuesday argued that there was a need to extend Emergency laws in Columbo as the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were trying to remerge after training in camps in Tamil Nadu. Prime Minister DM Jayaratne, quoting intelligence reports, told Parliament that three training camps for LTTE cadres were being run. In one of the camps, the cadres were being trained to target VIPs. 

Jayaratne, 81, who was appointed Prime Minister by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2010, said three remnants of diaspora LTTE were involved in providing logistics to the camps: US-based Rudrakumaran, Nediyavan from Norway and a certain Vinayagam who allegedly fled to India during the last stages of the civil conflict in 2009.

Lankan Tamil rebels were known to have been trained in several parts of India from late '70s to mid '80s. However, the policy was gradually reversed before the Indian Peace Keeping Force’s arrival in Sri Lanka. After former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, LTTE was banned in India; the ban continues till on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister's remarks, as quoted by Daily Mirror online, were interpreted as a move by the government to extend emergency laws in Sri Lanka nearly two years after the end of the war. Human rights agencies have been campaigning that with the war ending, Emergency laws should be withdrawn.
Asked about the PM's statement, a foreign ministry official said, he needed to check the facts before commenting.

The continuation of Emergency comes up for renewal every month in Parliament. It is inevitably passed by the government which has a huge majority in the house.

Diplomats in Colombo were cautious in reacting to Jayaratne’s unexpected assertion. "The allegation is without foundation. If the camps were mentioned to bolster the argument to extend emergency, then the argument is very fragile; like the last straw," a diplomat said.

During the debate, Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe put up the query whether the information with Jayaratne was shared with Indian officials during recent talks. The government was yet to reply to it till late Tuesday evening.

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