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LTTE may refuse civilian chopper offer

Informed sources say that LTTE may reject the offer as the chopper has no security, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2006 22:51 IST

Informed Tamil sources say that the LTTE is unlikely to accept the government's offer of a private helicopter for the transport of its commanders, because the civilian chopper has no security.

"Even a machine gun can bring it down," one of them said.

The LTTE had insisted that it must get a heavy duty and secure Sri Lankan Air Force helicopter.

Such a chopper had been given to the LTTE since the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) in 2002.

But the government suddenly withdrew this facility saying that it was not obligatory.

According to political observers, it is very unlikely that the government will come down completely and accept the LTTE's demand.

That will have serious political consequences for President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

LTTE is back to basics

At any rate, the chopper, whether civilian or military, is not the issue any longer, political observers say.

The LTTE is now looking at the Geneva talks from a different angle.

According to a Reuters report, the head of the LTTE's Peace Secretariat, S Puleedevan, has said, "Geneva I has to be implemented before Geneva II".

This means that before Geneva II, the Sri Lankan government must implement the promise to disarm the "Tamil paramilitaries" which have been harassing and killing LTTE cadres and pro-LTTE civilians in the Tamil-speaking North East.

But the government, as before, is saying that it has no Tamil paramilitaries and that the Karuna group, identified as the main paramilitary group by the LTTE, is only a faction of the LTTE.

Therefore, on this critical issue, there is no meeting ground between the government and the LTTE.

And none is likely.

Communal violence in Trincomalee

Puleedevan also said that so long as the Tamils were being subjected to murder and arson in Trincomalee, the LTTE would not go to Geneva.

Like the Tiger political wing leader SP Tamilselvan had said earlier, Puleedevan said that there had to be a "conducive environment" for the talks and that such an environment did not exist.

A source in Trincomalee told Hindustan Times on Tuesday that in the last few days, 4,000 Tamil families had been forced to flee the riot-affected areas around the port town.

Twenty persons, mostly Tamils, had lost their lives.

It all began with a blast in a market in a Sinhala dominated area just before the Sinhala New Year. This set off anti-Tamil violence.

The government blamed the LTTE for the blast and said that it was meant to trigger a communal riot.

The government also said that 11 people, presumably all Sinhalas, were killed in the blast and that none died in the rioting which took place later.

But the Tamils said that 6 people were killed in the blast, and 14 in the anti-Tamil riots.

The Tamils say that most of the casualties were from their own community.

Indian concern

Sources said that India is very much concerned about the violence in Trincomalee, not only because the rioting could spread to other parts of the island, but also because India has made huge investments in Trincomalee.

It is refurbishing the giant oil tanks there at a cost of US $30 million, and is also planning to put up a coal fired power plant.

India is interested in seeing that peace prevails in Trincomalee.

Norwegian special envoy arrives

The Norwegian Peace Envoy Jon Hensson Bauer arrived in Colombo on Tuesday.

He would try to defuse the crisis, save the ceasefire and make the LTTE come for talks.

Bauer is expected to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday and the LTTE's political wing leader SP Tamilselvan in Kilinochchi on Thursday.

First Published: Apr 18, 2006 19:47 IST