Security for SAARC meet strengthened

B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: Despite the LTTE’s ceasefire declaration for the duration of the SAARC Summit, Sri Lanka is taking nothing to chance and has drawn up an unprecedented security plan. The government on Tuesday said it viewed the ceasefire announcement as a ruse to regroup.

A senior government official told The Hindu there would no change in the security measures contemplated by the military and police to ensure smooth conduct of the summit. “We do not believe in the pronouncements of the LTTE. If the past conduct of the Tigers is any guide, the so-called unilateral ceasefire by the LTTE is all the more reason for the government to be extra vigilant,” said the official.

The security plan for the SAARC is envisaged in two phases. Some of the measures proposed would come into force only in the second phase, when the Foreign Ministers commence their two-day deliberations on July 31, and when regional leaders meet on August 2 and 3.

Several key areas in the city would be declared out of bounds for the public from July 31 to August 3. On representations from some of the SAARC countries, the government has permitted heads of state to bring their own security contingents. In a recent interaction with Foreign Correspondents Association (FCA), Army chief Lt. Gen. Sanath Foneska said the government would not hesitate to seek assistance of neighbouring countries to help the Air Force and Navy provide air cover and sea surveillance. As per the security plans, the summit venue, hotels where the delegations would stay, Katunayaka Air Base and Parliament House would be declared High Security Zones.

LTTE’s ploy

The security plan is premised on the assumption that the LTTE might use the opportunity to tarnish the country’s image by trying to sabotage an international gathering and divert attention from their battlefield losses.

Also, the military has claimed troops operating near Illuppakaddavai pounded LTTE positions with artillery and mortar fire, killing at least 25 LTTE cadre and injuring 17 others.

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