LTTE apologises for killing Rajiv Gandhi
The Tigers have acknowledged their role in the past, but this is the strongest expression of regret from the rebels.india Updated: Jun 28, 2006 18:00 IST
A senior Tamil Tiger leader has apologised to India for the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by a Tiger suicide bomber.
"I would say it is a great tragedy, a monumental historical tragedy for which we deeply regret and we call upon the Government of India and people of India to be magnanimous to put the past behind," said the Tigers' chief negotiator Anton Balasingham in an interview with news channel.
The Tigers killed Rajiv Gandhi to protest India's involvement, during Gandhi's tenure, in Sri Lanka's civil war. The Tigers have acknowledged their role in the attack in the past, but this is the strongest expression of regret yet from the rebels.
However, Indian officials said India could never forgive the killing.
"This would be tantamount to endorsing the philosophy of terror, violence and political assassination," India's junior foreign minister, Anand Sharma said.
"The people of India cannot forgive the dastardly crime committed by the (Tigers)."
Balasingham's comments came as mounting violence in Sri Lanka threatens to torpedo a shaky 2002 cease-fire that ended a bloody civil war, which left some 65,000 people dead in the island nation.
But the context for the comment -- and whether it was part of a larger strategy to court Indian support -- was not immediately clear.
Balasingham said the Tigers, formally called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, had given India a commitment that it would not target its leaders again and would welcome a greater Indian involvement in the peace talks between the Tigers and the Sri Lankan government.
The Tigers have pledged not to work against India's interests, Balasingham informed the news channel, saying India should be "actively involved in the peace process."