Panel dismisses LTTE's denial of attack on sailors

V.S. Sambandan

Serious blow to the ceasefire: Monitoring Committee

COLOMBO: The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) on Friday dismissed denials by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of involvement in the recent escalation of violence in the northern and eastern districts.

Strongly condemning Thursday's attack on a road convoy of the Sri Lanka Navy, the SLMM described it as "yet another serious blow to the ceasefire agreement (CFA)."

The navy said at least eight sailors were killed in the claymore attack by suspected LTTE cadres.

On the LTTE's denials of its involvement, the SLMM said: "The LTTE claims that 'the People' are behind the attacks on the military. SLMM finds this explanation unacceptable. It is safe to say that LTTE involvement cannot be ruled out and we find the LTTE's indifference to these attacks worrying." In a comprehensive statement, the SLMM also wanted the Government and the LTTE to come up with "confidence building measures" and "more commitment" if Sri Lanka was not the relapse into war.

Striking an ominous note, the SLMM said it "believed that if such attacks or retaliation of such attacks continue, the CFA will be over."

Situation getting worse

Pointing out that "over 100 persons were killed last month, half of which were civilians," the SLMM said "the situation is getting worse," and that "it is our assessment that if the parties [the Government and the LTTE] don't react immediately, they risk going back to war."

The SLMM, comprising Nordic ceasefire monitors, has been in place since the CFA came into force in 2002.

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