Sri Lankan Government Calls Tamil Truce ‘Bogus’
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ The government branded the Tamil rebels’ cease-fire as ″bogus″ Monday and listed 19 violations in an acceleration of charges and countercharges that followed the truce’s initiation New Year’s Day.
The guerillas accused soldiers of ″brutal attacks on civilians,″ including raping five Tamil women, abducting two men and killing a rebel supporter.
Deputy Defense Minister Ranjan Wijeratne told reporters troops defended themselves when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam broke their own unilaterally declared cease-fire. He gave no details of the violations.
He said troops killed six Tamil Tigers in self-defense since Jan. 1.
″It appears the rank and file of the ... (Tigers) are not obeying orders of higher cadres. ... It is typical of them,″ Wijeratne said. ″A cease-fire is a cease-fire. If they have no control over their cadres, it’s too bad.
″The cease-fire appears to be a bogus one.″
But he said the government would stick to its commitment to halt all offensive operations against the Tigers until midnight Thursday.
The Tamil Tigers said in a statement faxed from their London office Monday that the attacks on civilians took place from Friday to Sunday in the eastern Batticaloa district.
The military denied the rape and abduction charges but said one militant was shot to death when he tried to grab a soldier’s rifle.
It was not possible to verify the claims.
The Tigers started fighting in 1983 for a separate homeland for Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority. They declared an unconditional cease-fire to mark the New Year of 1991 and said they hoped peace talks would follow.
At least five previous cease-fires have broken down.
More than 14,000 people have been killed in the insurrection. Tamil separatists accuse Sinhalese majority of discriminating against Tamils in jobs and education.
Tamils form 18 percent and Sinhalese 75 percent of Sri Lanka’s 16 million people.