|Sri Lanka Says Intelligence Reveals Rebels Divided|
|Tuesday, 03 June 2008|
By Paul TigheJune 3 (Bloomberg) -- The leadership of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is divided, Sri Lanka's Defense Ministry said, citing intelligence reports that the head of the group's peace secretariat is under house arrest. Seevaratnam Prabaharan, also known as Puleedevan, was detained recently on the orders of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, the ministry said on its Web site. ``According to information received from defense intelligence authorities, the arrest has been made as a result of a worsening internal dispute among key LTTE figures,'' the ministry said. Telephone calls to the peace secretariat weren't answered today.
The Tamil Tigers, who have been fighting for a separate Tamil homeland in northern and eastern Sri Lanka for 25 years, hold their last remaining bases in the north after losing control of Eastern Province last July. Sri Lanka's army and air force have targeted LTTE leaders, killing the head of its political wing in November. The LTTE's Peace Secretariat issued a statement late yesterday highlighting an army attack that it said killed six civilians near Mullaitivu in the north.
The military has carried out almost daily attacks on the estimated 7,000 Tamil Tigers in the north. Prabhakaran was wounded in an air raid in November, the government said, citing intelligence officials, and the group's military intelligence chief was killed Jan. 6.
The military offensives in the north amount to genocide, the LTTE said in March, accusing the air force of dropping bombs in civilian areas. A negotiated settlement to Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict isn't possible until the Tamil Tigers are ``verifiably demilitarized and democratized,'' Dayan Jayatilleka, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN, said earlier this week.
The conflict will end only when Prabhakaran gets ``demilitarized one way or the other,'' said Jayatilleka. ``There can be no peace'' with the LTTE leader. President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government has vowed to eradicate terrorism in the north while seeking a political accord with all Tamil groups in the region.
The government rejects any settlement that would divide the country of 20 million people where Tamils make up 11.9 percent of the population and Sinhalese almost 74 percent, according to the 2001 census. A 1987 constitutional amendment that envisaged devolving power to the island's regions is the basis for ending the conflict, Rajapaksa has said.
The LTTE, which is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., the European Union and India, rejected the plan in 1988 saying too much power was left with a national parliament.
Rajapaska's government has pledged to rebuild Eastern Province and has organized local elections since the territory was captured from the rebels. Two members of a local council in Batticaloa district were shot by gunmen yesterday in an attack the military blamed on the LTTE.
Last Updated: June 2, 2008 23:55 EDT
(Courtesy : Bloomberg )
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