|We will crush Tamil Tigers completely: President Mahinda Rajapaksa|
|Tuesday, 16 September 2008|
Colombo, Sep 16 (IANS)
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has expressed confidence that his troops will crush the Tamil Tiger guerrillas “completely”, but he refused to set a time frame for a military victory.At a dinner meeting here at his heavily-guarded official residence Temple Trees, Rajapaksa told foreign correspondents Monday that the military authorities and the service commanders “are very happy with the progress they have made” in their fight to finish the campaign against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the island’s north.
“We will completely crush the LTTE, but I do not want to set a time frame for it. It can be done. It will definitely take some time,” said Rajapaksa, warning that “some sleeping LTTE cadres” would still be left even after the tigers were defeated militarily.
He said that the government would hold a provincial council election for the Northern Province immediately after the troops cleared the area of the rebels, “allowing the Tamil people to elect their own leaders and representatives democratically as they did in the east”.
The remarks by the president, who is also the defence minister and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, have come at a time when the troops are locked in fierce fighting with the rebels across the north for the past few months, leaving hundreds of combatants dead and thousands of civilians displaced.
Barely a couple of weeks after the troops captured a few strategically important villages deep inside the rebel-held Kilinochchi district in the north, a group of at least 10 suicide cadres, backed by artillery and aerial support, staged a pre-dawn commando attack against a key joint military base in the northern town of Vavuniya, 254 km north of here.
Despite claims and counter-claims of the material damage caused during this attack, it is believed that at least 10 rebels and as many government soldiers were killed in the attack.While the troops were engaged in the “mission of eradicating the LTTE terrorism”, Rajapaksa said that his government was “already working towards a political solution - through the formation of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) - that would solve the problems of the Tamil people adequately”.Rajapaksa, who took power in November 2005, rejected the possibility of another truce with the LTTE and said that talks would be possible only after the elusive rebel leader “Velupillai Prabhakaran surrendered himself to the government with his weapons”.“They (LTTE) will be allowed to surrender, but there is no question of having another ceasefire agreement with them.
I don’t think we can hold talks with the LTTE in the future and there will be no need for it,” he said.He also urged thousands of expatriate Sri Lankan Tamils to return home and enter the democratic mainstream instead of supporting the guerrillas.“Prabhakaran and (LTTE intelligence chief) Pottu Amman have to surrender with their weapons.
I will not allow them to raise their heads again with the weapons,” Rajapaksa said.“If we catch Prabhakaran alive I will first send him to India, but at the moment we do not know where his exact location in the Wanni jungles is,” the president said, recalling New Delhi’s call for his extradition for allegedly ordering the 1991 killing of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Rajapaksa said he was “very happy with the assistance” he was getting from India, but he did not elaborate.
(Courtesy : hamaraphotos.com )
|Last Updated ( Monday, 09 March 2009 )|
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