LTTE assurance defuses crisis

COLOMBO July 3. The crisis in eastern Sri Lanka, sparked by last week's clashes between Tamils and Muslims, was ``defused'' today following an assurance by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to the civilians that the rebel group ``will ensure the safety and security of Muslims'' in the region, army and political sources said.

During the two-and-a-half-hour meeting at Batticaloa, the LTTE also gave an assurance that civilians ``can have free movement and carry on with their work''.

The assurance was given by Mr. Karikalan, the LTTE's political wing leader for Batticaloa and Amparai, at a meeting between representatives of security forces, the LTTE, Tamil and Muslim political leaders and civilians from both communities.

Mr. Karikalan said that when Sinhalese and Tamils, engaged in decades-long conflict, were willing to talk, there should be no reason for enmity between the Tamils and Muslims.

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