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LTTE invites foreign troops to do relief work

LTTE has said that foreign troops are welcome to do tsunami relief work in areas controlled by it, reports PK Balachanddran.
PTI | By PK Balachanddran, Colombo
UPDATED ON JAN 25, 2005 12:15 PM IST

In a significant break from the past, the LTTE has said that foreign troops are welcome to do tsunami relief work in areas controlled by it.

Speaking to the top Colombo-based Tamil daily Virakesari, the LTTE's Naval Chief, Col Soosai said that it was unfortunate that foreign troops and foreign relief workers were doing relief work only in the Sinhala-dominated South Sri Lanka, avoiding the LTTE-controlled Tamil areas.

"They should come to Mullaitivu, learn about the problems people are facing here and help them out," he said.

Mullaitivu district in North East Sri Lanka is one of the worst effected areas in Sri Lanka, accounting for about 3,000 of the 39,000 dead in the island.

"We have never barred any foreign country or foreign troops from coming here to do relief work," Soosai said.

He did not know why they were avoiding the Tamil areas. "Perhaps they think all Tamils are LTTE," he said, venturing to guess.

Soosai, who is in charge of the LTTE's relief effort, criticised foreign troops for helping the Sri Lankan government repair the country's harbours, neglecting the Tamils who were facing a grave humanitarian crisis.

India had helped the Sri Lankan government survey and repair the harbours in Galle, Colombo, Trincomalee and Kankesanthurai.

LTTE hard pressed

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan military spokesman, Brig Daya Ratnayake, told Hindustan Times that if the LTTE was welcoming foreign troops now, it was because it was finding it difficult to cope with the tsunami disaster.

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