Sri Lanka rebels warn of open war

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels have warned of a return to war, signalling further trouble for the already faltering Norwegian-backed peace process.

    LTTE chief Prabhakaran is being undermined by renegade faction

    The main Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) reacted angrily on Monday to a renegade regional commander's use of state broadcasting facilities to launch what they claimed was a propaganda war against them.


    Breakaway Tiger leader V Muralitharan told the BBC's Tamil language section late on Sunday that his former boss, Velupillai Prabhakaran, passed on an arms shopping list to an agent in Thailand during peace talks there in 2002.


    Muralitharan, who is better known as Karuna, was a member of the Tiger negotiating team but led an unprecedented split earlier this year in the monolithic organisation.




    He went underground in April unable to resist an onslaught by Prabhakaran's forces.


    Critics of Karuna say he received
    assistance from the government

    "When negotiations took place in Thailand, Prabhakaran wanted to find out the details of weapons and gave lists of them," Karuna said. "But he didn't say what to ask for in the negotiations.


    "You should understand that all his intention is towards a war, not towards achieving a permanent solution to the problem."


    The LTTE said the Karuna crisis had seriously undermined the peace process and accused the government of pushing the country back to war.


    More than 60,000 people have died in three decades if ethnic fighting.


    Lowest ebb


    "Most certainly we can define the current status as the lowest ebb in the entire process ... because of various actions of the government, the forces," the LTTE's political wing leader S P Thamilselvan said in a separate interview with the BBC.


    "You should understand that all his intention
    is towards a war"

    V Muralitharan,
    Breakaway regional commander, LTTE

    "It's only during the times of war that the Tamil nation lost both the fighters as well as the civilians, but now with [the truce] we continue to lose our fighters and the civilians, so it makes us feel that we are drifting back [to war]."


    Karuna's rare interview to the BBC - re-broadcast over state-run radio in Colombo - has angered the LTTE, who slammed the government, saying it had aided Karuna.


    Karuna had also given a longer interview which had allegedly been broadcast using Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation facilities, Tamil sources said.


    The LTTE's eastern political wing leader E Kousalyan said in a statement that the state had provided facilities to Karuna to attack the Tigers "with the obvious aim of destroying the mutual goodwill on which the ceasefire is based".


    The latest LTTE statement came four days after a human bombing in Colombo, the first in the Sri Lankan capital since a Norwegian-arranged ceasefire went into effect from February 2002.



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