The separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) would observe a ceasefire during the SAARC Summit beginning in Colombo next week.
The political wing of the LTTE, which is fighting for a Tamil homeland in the island nation, issued a late night release on Monday saying that "it will observe a unilateral ceasefire that is devoid of military actions during the period of the SAARC conference from 26th July to 4th August.'' The Summit, to be attended by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will be held between July 27 and August 3.
"We wish for the success of the SAARC conference and we also extend our goodwill and support to the countries of our region, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives," the release added.
The LTTE is locked in a pitched battle with the Sri Lankan armed forces since 1983 to carve out a separate homeland for the country's minority Tamil population. In the last one year, the Sri Lankan government has claimed major success in the eastern part of the country, which was once considered a stronghold of the LTTE, and has held elections in three districts.
In recent months, the government has also claimed to have made sharp advances in the northern regions of the country where the LTTE continues to hold sway over large swaths of area.
Apparently as a counter move, the LTTE had stepped up the frequency of attacks against police and military personnel and also civilians in the relatively peaceful southern and western parts of the country.
It was in the context of increasing intensity of violence in Colombo and surrounding areas that the authorities had been paranoid about security during the 15th SAARC summit. Thousands of police and military personnel have already begun to throw layers of security cover in and around the Capital and especially around the venue of the summit, a large complex of meeting halls and auditoriums, similar to the Vigyan Bhawan complex located in the heart of New Delhi.
Though the ceasefire announcement from the LTTE could allow the security apparatus to breathe a cautious sigh of relief, they would definitely not want it to be caught off guard. Especially since the announcement is not without a rider: "At the same time if the occupying Sinhala forces, disrespecting our goodwill gesture of our people and our nation, carry out any offensives, our movement will be forced to take defensive actions," the release said.