LTTE, Lanka Govt talks deadlocked
Sri Lankan Govt refuses to accede to the LTTE's demand to end road blockade, reports PK Balachandran.
The peace talks between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE, which ended in Geneva on Sunday, were deadlocked on the issue of the re-opening of the A9 highway linking south Sri Lanka with Jaffna in the north through LTTE-held territory.
Reports reaching Colombo said that the Sri Lankan government had refused to accede to the LTTE's demand that the road, which is the main supply route to Jaffna, be opened immediately to alleviate the suffering of the people of the northern peninsula.
The LTTE had earlier warned that the talks process could not continue if the urgent humanitarian issue of opening the road was not addressed.
The government's chief negotiator, Nimal Sripala de Silva, told the Sri Lankan MTV channel after the talks, that the government could not accede to the demand because the LTTE would use the road to infiltrate into Jaffna.
The government also contends that the LTTE will use the road to extort money from users and fill its war chest.
Military build up in Jaffna
The breakdown of the talks in Geneva coincided with a reported build up of Sri Lankan forces in the Muhamalai area of Jaffna, which saw large scale fighting recently.
Rasaiah Ilanthirayan, the LTTE's military spokesman and a member of the talks delegation told Tamilnet in Geneva on Sunday, that the Sri Lankan Army was preparing for an offensive in the Muhamalai area in Jaffna.
He said that the Army was conducting exercises, which were "provocative."
Tamilnet said that the army had deployed additional troops and military hardware and that the Army Chief Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka had held a conference with the commanders of the 51, 52,53 and 55 Divisions in Jaffna on Saturday.
The website further said that curfew had been imposed in the Thenmarachchi sector of Jaffna in operational areas like Varani, Usan, Kachchai, Navatkadu, Eluthumaduval, Kodikamam, Meesalai-East, Allarai and Thanankilappu.
Local civilians had heard artillery and mortar shelling, it added.
A claymore mine, which accidentally went off in Udupiddy in Jaffna killed at least five civilians, a government website said.
But reliable sources told Hindustan Times that while it was true that Gen Fonseka was in Jaffna, no exercises were being held there. There was no offensive being planned either.
Government websites were silent on the alleged build up in Jaffna.