B. Muralidhar Reddy

Thamilchelvan being falsely portrayed as a man of peace: Prime Minister

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake has asserted that the air force will continue to track down the hiding places of LTTE leaders and launch attacks even as the military claimed the death of nine cadres of the LTTE and one soldier in continuing incidents of violence in the north on Monday.

“Our security forces are targeting the hiding places and safe houses of terrorist leaders to deal a mortal blow to the Tigers. They will not stop the relentless pursuit of terrorists,” Mr. Wickremanayake told reporters at a function in Ingiriya, the state-run English paper, Daily News reported.

Mr. Wickremanayake was quoted as saying on Sunday that the government was not in favour of a “fresh ceasefire” though it was “ready for unconditional talks, as it has always been.”

“It is the not the government that left the negotiating table. It is the LTTE which spurned the peace drive. Nevertheless, the government will be ready if they want to negotiate. But we will not stop retaliating terror attacks even while discussions are going on,” the paper quoted him as saying. He noted that the terrorists had not only attacked security personnel, southern targets and Sinhala politicians, but also their own brethren and the operations against the terrorists were planned and conducted by the security forces.

Allegation dismissed

“Our aim is to eliminate LTTE terrorism and bring peace to the country.” Citing the “successful” Kilinochchi attack, he dismissed allegations that the forces had lost their morale after certain setbacks recently.

“Our forces are fully geared to face the enemy which conducts cowardly attacks without coming out into the open. It is the duty of all patriotic citizens to encourage heroic forces personnel,” he said.

Separately, Defence spokesperson and Minister Keheliya Rambukwella complained at a news briefing here on Monday that there are concerted efforts by interested groups to project the LTTE leader Thamilchelvam, killed in an air strike by the air force, as a “man of peace” and “peace dove”.