LTTE cannot talk for us: Muslims

COLOMBO, NOV. 1. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) today said it did not agree with the nomination by four Tamil parties of the LTTE as the only organisation with which the Sri Lankan Government could hold negotiations for a political solution to the ethnic conflict. The SLMC leader, Mr, Rauff Hakeem, said at a news conference today that while the LTTE would have to be a key figure at negotiations, talking to the group alone would not bring a solution. ``The accredited representatives of the Muslim people cannot be ignored,'' Mr. Hakeem said.

The SLMC is contesting the December 5 elections as a member of the United National Party (UNP)-led United National Front in 10 districts, and on its own steam in Ampara, Batticaloa and Jaffna.

The party has demanded more security for its candidates and leader after one of its candidates in Batticaloa was shot at on Wednesday night. He escaped with minor injuries.

Mr. Hakeem blamed rivals in the People's Alliance, of which he was a constituent till recently, for the attack, and said if anything untoward happened to him or his candidates, the blame would rest squarely on the Government.

No pact with UNP: TULF

An alliance of four Tamil parties, led by the TULF, had designated the LTTE as the only party that would represent the Tamils at future peace talks. The TULF general secretary, Mr R Sampanthan, told The Hindu today it was incorrect to say that the four-party alliance had any understanding with the UNP for or after the elections. He was responding to a report in this newspaper that the stand of the four-party alliance on the LTTE, especially the TULF's backing for its ``freedom struggle'', would make it difficult for the UNP to justify its association with it to the majority Sinhala electorate.

``We have no agreement with the UNP. We are maintaining equidistance from both the UNP and the PA,'' Mr. Sampanthan said. The only aim of the four-party alliance was to push the Government for talks with the LTTE for a quick resolution of the ethnic conflict.

However, in public perception, the UNP and the four Tamil parties are undeniably linked. The UNP has fielded its own candidates in Jaffna peninsula, but for the alliance, the main opponent is an ally of the PA, the Eelam People's Democratic Party.

From June, these parties worked closely with the UNP to bring down the PA Government. Three of them were early signatories to the no-confidence motion.

11 policemen killed

The LTTE mounted a massive attack today on a police post in the eastern district of Trincomalee, killing 11 policemen and wounding 15 security personnel and one civilian, defence officials said.

The military spokesman, Brigadier Sanath Karunaratne, said 50 or 60 fighters of the LTTE converged on the police post, three km south of Muthur this afternoon and attacked it with artillery and mortars. The Army had to send in reinforcements to secure the post.

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