Apart from appealing for aid, Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leader Velupillai Prabhakaran on Wednesday issued a rare statement of condolence to the southern Sinhalese, the majority community he has waged war against for two decades at a cost of over 64,000 lives.
“My condolences … go out to our Muslim and Sinhala brethren in the southern coastal areas, who have lost their kith and kin, and [are] in deep sorrow,” Prabhakaran said in a statement posted on the LTTE’s website.
The tsunami killed more than 22,000 Sri Lankans. President Chandrika Kumaratunga has described the disaster as unprecedented in the country’s history.
Prabhakaran’s statement was a far cry from his threat last month to resume the rebels’ bloody freedom struggle, on hold after a three-year ceasefire.
Tamil Tiger rebels are now
In the weeks leading up to Sunday’s tsunami, tensions between the two sides reached fever pitch, stoking fears of a slide back to full-blown war.
Killings and sporadic violence across the ethnic divide were becoming a daily routine. Battling the tsunami aftermath has given both sides a common enemy and there have been no reports of violence since Sunday.
Donor nations have grown increasingly impatient with the rebel Tigers and the Sinhalese-dominated Sri Lankan government in recent months for their inability to forge lasting peace.
Seeking a separate homeland for the minority Tamils, the LTTE is pressing for interim self-rule. But the government insists the rebels must agree to lasting peace first.