B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: Finland is pulling out of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) on grounds of security before the September 1 deadline set by Tamil Tigers for all European Union (EU) ceasefire monitors to leave.

Robert Nilson, acting spokesperson of the SLMM told The Hindu , "We have received a communication from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland that they have decided to withdraw their observers from the Sri Lanka mission. It is a worrying development."

The decision by Finland coincided with a statement attributed to the LTTE leadership in Kilinochchi that the `Tamil people' view the latest air raids by the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF), during the ceasefire, as `declaration of war.' The reference was to the air strikes by SLAF on Wednesday and Thursday in the north and east.