B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: On day 14 of the "water war" the LTTE unilaterally lifted the waterway blockade in the east even as the Army continued to target the Tamil Tigers positions in and around the waterway. At least three persons were killed in a powerful car bomb explosion here on Tuesday.

The LTTE said its leaders and civilian representatives in Maavilaru on Tuesday evening opened the sluice gates as a "goodwill gesture" and in response to the Norwegian initiative.

The LTTE had agreed to lift the blockade on Sunday under a deal negotiated by Norway. However, Colombo rejected it on the grounds that water was "non-negotiable" and it cannot allow a "bunch of terrorists" to blackmail it.

The LTTE's move to block the waterway, source of irrigation for 30,000 acres, triggered violence in which several hundred persons are feared dead. At least 50,000 persons have been rendered homeless as it spread to Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts.

Hours before the LTTE lifted the blockade, Sri Lanka informed the visiting Norwegian delegation led by Special Envoy Jon Hanssen Bauer that control of the waterway by the LTTE was unacceptable.

Minister briefed

Mr. Bauer, who has just returned after a visit to the LTTE headquarters and the affected areas, briefed a Minister and the Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordination of the Peace Process (SCOPP) on the discussions he held with the LTTE.

A statement by the SCOPP said it was disappointed that the LTTE had not changed its position regarding the expulsion of E.U. monitors from the SLMM. He also discussed the transitional stage of the SLMM in the run up to the LTTE ultimatum and possible options to re-constitute the SLMM to its current strength.

Sense of outrage

A sense of outrage and shock have enveloped the NGO community and the civil society over the execution of 15 aid workers of a French organisation in Muttur town.

In a statement Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy and Co-Chair of the Tokyo Donor Conference for Sri Lanka, and Louis Michel, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said they were deeply shocked by the spate of violent attacks on civilians and humanitarian aid personnel in Sri Lanka.

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