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War not on in Sri Lanka, says LTTE

Retaliatory attacks continue unabated in the island nation, despite LTTE's refusal, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Aug 07, 2006 13:51 IST

The LTTE said on Monday that war was not on, even as the Sri Lankan government said that its air, sea and land operations codenamed "Operation Watershed" would continue and the rebels assassinated a top commando officer.

"We don't think war has begun," the LTTE's media spokesman Thaya Master told Hindustan Times over phone from Kilinochchi.

He said that the government had been continuing its military operations on the basis of a misunderstanding of what the LTTE had said on Sunday.

The LTTE had put no conditions for the re-opening of the Mavil Aaru dam and had not, as alleged, stated that the dam would be opened only if the government stopped its air raids and its troops returned to their original bases.

"The offer to open the dam was totally unconditional."

"We agreed to open the dam when the Norwegian special envoy, Hanssen Bauer, gave us a message from Erik Solheim, pointing out the need to release water."

"And we did it without attaching any conditions, on purely humanitarian grounds," Thaya Master said.

Other Tamil sources pointed out that if there were indeed any conditions, the LTTE's team headed by the Trincomalee district political chief, S Elilan, and a truce monitors' team led by Maj Gen Ulf Henricsson, would not have gone to the dam site on Sunday to open the sluice gates.

The sources pointed out that the head of the LTTE's political wing SP Tamilselvan had told the Norwegian special envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer on Sunday, that the gates of the dam would be opened on that day itself.

And it was when the monitors and the LTTE team were at the site for this purpose, that the Sri Lankan army rained shells on the area, threatening the lives of the monitors and others, the sources said.

The interpretation in Tamil circles here is that Tamilselvan's statement that the government should withdraw its troops and stop air strikes was unrelated to the opening of the dam.

Govt rejects "conditions"

Earlier on Sunday, the government said that it had rejected the LTTE's "conditions" for opening the dam.

The Island daily of Monday quoted the Sri Lankan defence spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwela, as saying that there could not be any conditions attached to the release of an essential commodity such as water, especially by a "terrorist organisation".

Moreover, the LTTE and the Nordic truce monitors could not negotiate with each other on the release of water, keeping the sovereign government of Sri Lanka out, he pointed out.

LTTE takes war to south Lanka

The LTTE on Sunday killed a top Sri Lankan commando officer, Upul Seneviratne, in Kandy district, a Sinhala majority area in Central Sri Lanka.

Senior Superintendent of Police Seneviratne, attached to the elite Special Task Force (STF), was killed when his vehicle got caught in a claymore mine blast.

The STF was raised as a branch of the police force to tackle militancy in the multi-ethnic Eastern districts of Sri Lanka.

Earlier, there was a discovery of a truck full of weapons coming from Vavuniya in the north, and heading towards Elpitya in the South, indicating the LTTE's intention to stage attacks in the Sinhala majority areas of the deep south.

The interception carried out at Bentota, on the south western coast, revealed T-56 rifles and magazines, 18 grenades, and 38 claymore mines, The Sunday Times reported.

First Published: Aug 07, 2006 13:51 IST