Sri Lanka’s first ever chief of defence staff Sarath Fonseka’s first day at work on Wednesday could leave China and Pakistan frowning for two reasons.
India was getting ready to send 500 soldiers to Sri Lanka — its largest contingent since the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in 1987 — to help de-mine north and north-east Lanka, Fonseka announced.
“India was sending 500 de-miners to clear areas formally under the control of LTTE in the north,” Fonseka said in an informal talk after taking charge as chief of defence staff.
He did not indicate when the Indian contingent would arrive.
What would add to their furrows was his second announcement that $ 200 million worth of ammunition to be bought from China and Pakistan was no longer required as the war against the LTTE was over.
Earlier this month, the Indian government had expressed willingness to help demining the heavily mined areas like Killinochchi and Mullaitivu which till few months ago were LTTE strongholds.
The Lankan military says that a retreating LTTE had installed thousands of anti-personnel mines to stall the advancing Lankan troops. A private Indian company is already helping in de-mining areas in the north.