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Lankan security forces on alert

world Updated: Jan 03, 2008 14:37 IST

Sri Lankan security forces were put on a nationwide alert on Thursday, hours after the government decided to scrap its ceasefire agreement with Tamil Tigers that was signed in 2002.

"The Army, Navy and Air force have been put on the alert in the country after the decision to abrogate the ceasefire agreement though we have been on the vigil as the Tigers have stepped up attacks", Military Spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara told PTI.

Apparently emboldened by its recent military successes against the LTTE, the Sri Lankan government last night decided to terminate the truce agreement with LTTE.

Attributing the decision to withdraw from the ceasefire to violations of the agreement by LTTE, Cabinet Minister Kehellya Rambukwella said "The ceasefire must have been violated by the LTTE more than 10,000 times."

"The Cabinet decision will be put into practice by using the terms and conditions of the ceasefire agreement itself," the Minister added.

Navy spokesman D K P Dasanayake said the navy is ready to take up any challenges.

Police spokesman N K Ellangakoon told PTI that the law and order machinery has been beefed up. The Cabinet last night unanimously decided to withdraw from the ceasefire agreement, Rambukwella said.

"The Government decided to officially withdraw from the ceasefire agreement since it is futile to continue with the ceasefire with no indication that LTTE is willing to enter the peace path," Rambukwella said.

According to a report, the Cabinet has entrusted the task of notifying the Norwegian facilitators regarding the government's decision to the Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanyaka.

According to the agreement, either party should give two weeks notification prior to the withdrawal from the ceasefire to the Norwegian facilitators.

The ceasefire came into effect on February 22, 2002 with then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe signing the controversial ceasefire agreement to pursue a peaceful solution to the problem.

LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran had signed the agreement on behalf of the LTTE. "The peace process was again revived after President Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power in 2005 and LTTE the continued its terror acts showing no commitment to the ceasefire," Rambukwella added.

Peace talks in Geneva between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers collapsed in October 2006.

The move by the government to formally end the ceasefire follows its recent military successes against the LTTE, including the killing of the rebels' political wing chief S P Thamilselvan.

The LTTE had been fighting since 1983 for a separate homeland for ethnic minority Tamils in Sri Lanka. About 70,000 people lost their lives in the conflict.