SL Army and Karuna can defeat LTTE – Defence Secy
[TamilNet, Monday, 10 April 2006, 23:03 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told the head of the international ceasefire monitors that the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) could easily defeat the Liberation Tigers with the assistance of the Karuna Group paramilitaries, the Daily Mirror reported Tuesday. Paradoxically, Mr. Rajapakse, appointed to his post by President Mahinda Rajapakse, his brother, had two weeks ago also told the then head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) that paramilitaries were not operating in government-controlled areas.
Gothabaya Rajapakse, Defence Secretary
“The war of words between the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission and the Defence Ministry continued [Monday] with the monitors strongly denying reports that at a meeting with the Defence Secretary two weeks ago the former SLMM head described the LTTE as ‘Freedom fighters’” the Daily Mirror reported.
The Daily Mirror learns that “the SLMM was also angered that at that meeting Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had told the former SLMM head Hagrup Haukland the LTTE could be easily defeated if the army joined forces with the Karuna faction while denying claims the armed group was operating in government-controlled areas.”
When contacted by the Daily Mirror SLMM spokesperson Helen Olafstdottir refused to comment over the Defence Secretary’s statement on the Karuna issue but denied claims that the former SLMM head had termed the LTTE as freedom fighters.
"It is not up to the SLMM to make such political definitions when it comes to the LTTE or in fact the government. The SLMM received this mandate from both the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE irrespective of the nature of any such definition," Ms. Olafsdottir said.
She stressed that the new SLMM head Ulf Henriksson and another of his aides were present at the meeting with the Defence Secretary.
"Mr. Henriksson can testify that Mr. Haukland never uttered these words in such a detrimental context," Ms. Olafsdottir said of the ‘freedom fighters’ allegation.