THE GOVERNMENT IS COMMITTED TO PEACE; LTTE BOMBS CROWDED CIVILIAN BUSES

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as ‘Tamil Tigers,’one of the most ruthless terrorist groups in the world, fighting for a separate state in Sri Lanka, keeps trying to sabotage the government’s painstaking efforts to establish peace in the country.

The latest in terrorist attacks carried out by Tamil Tigers are two bomb attacks against civilians in two crowded buses in the western and southern provinces on January 5th and 6th 2007, killing at least 35 and injuring 117 innocent civilians, including women and children. Preliminary police investigations reveal that bombs were placed inside the two buses. Defence authorities state that the Tamil Tigers are the only group in Sri Lanka known to use plastic explosives. The Tamil Tigers are also the only group with expertise and prior experience in the use of RDX explosives. The manner in which the targets were chosen and the attacks ruthlessly executed bears the hallmark of Tamil Tiger terrorism. Furthermore, Tamil Tiger female cadres are internationally notorious for their role as suicide bombers.

The Tamil Tiger are targeting civilians in the south with the intention of instigating a communal backlash due to setbacks they are experiencing in the north and the east. They are also desperately trying to cling to the myth of being “the sole representative of the Tamil people” as the mass exodus of Tamil civilians continues in the north and the east into “cleared areas” controlled by the government.

Over the years, the LTTE has been known to resort to this kind of brutal attacks on civilian targets through frustration and desperation and then deny responsibility for killing of civilians. Among numerous attacks on civilians carried out by Tamil Tigers outside conflict areas, were the following: on June 15, last year, a Tamil Tiger claymore mine attack on a bus carrying 140 civilians killed 68 and injured 60. On March 5, 1998, the LTTE exploded a bomb in a bus outside a train station in a busy commercial area in the capital Colombo, killing at least 50 civilians and wounding at least 250, including children. On July 24, 1996, the LTTE exploded two powerful bombs onboard a crowded passenger train in the suburbs of Colombo, killing at least 70 civilians and injuring over 400. On April 10, 1992, the LTTE exploded a bomb in a bus in Ampara in the east, killing at least 25 and injuring at least 33. There have been numerous other attacks where the LTTE forcibly stopped passenger buses and selectively massacred Muslims and Sinhalese passengers. One such instance was the massacre of 33 young Buddhist priests and their mentor the Chief Priest, who were traveling in a bus in Aranthalawa in the Eastern province on June 6, 1987.

The government has reiterated that terror attacks will not deter its efforts to find a negotiated solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka or its counter measures to defeat terrorism and restore normalcy in the country.

The United States and the United Nations have both condemned this latest atrocity by the Tamil Tigers. The US stated that attacks, which deliberately target civilians are clear acts of terrorism and that twenty-five years of terrorism have not improved the lives of the Tamil people. The UN too condemned the civilian bus attacks and called for protection of all civilian zones. Both the US and the UN also referred to the humanitarian situation that has arisen in Vakari in the east. The Tamil Tigers are still holding about 15,000 helpless civilians as human shields in that area, thereby preventing them from leaving to the safety of government-controlled areas. The US said that the solution in its view lies in a negotiated settlement that meets the aspirations of all of Sri Lanka's communities -- Sinhalese, Tamil, and Muslim.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC
USA

09 January 2007


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