Sri Lanka rationale for offensive ‘spurious, deceptive’ - LTTE

[TamilNet, Saturday, 02 September 2006, 03:59 GMT]
Dismissing the Sri Lankan military’s justification for its latest major offensive against the LTTE in Sampoor as “spurious” and “deceptive,” the Tigers’ political representative in the area said the LTTE first fired on the naval base in Trincomalee when resisting the SLA’s initial offensive in late July.



Sri Lanka’s military has justified a major offensive launched Monday against the LTTE in Sampur as necessary to safeguard the Trincomalee naval base from LTTE artillery based in the enclave.

However, the LTTE’s Trincomalee district head, Mr. S. Elilan, said Friday that the LTTE first fired on the base to fend off a major ground offensive launched in July by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) against the LTTE in the Maavil Aru area.

“Since April this year the Sri Lanka military has conducted several bouts of sustained air and artillery bombardment against our controlled areas in Trincomalee,” Mr. Elilan told reporters Sunday.

“In April, several villages in LTTE-controlled areas were flattened by artillery and multi-barrel rocket launchers. Fifteen civilians were killed. Yet [even then] we did not fire on the Trincomalee naval base,” he said.

“Since then the Sri Lanka Air Force has repeatedly bombed our areas and the Sri Lanka Army has repeatedly shelled and rocketed our areas. Yet we did not fire on the base,” he said.

“It was only when Sri Lanka’s military launched a deliberate offensive in the Maavil Aru region with the intention of invading and occupying LTTE-controlled territory that we were compelled to fire on the base as part of a wider defensive counter-offensive,” he said.

“In particular, it was the deliberate targeting and destruction of civilian settlements in our controlled areas which killed and wounded many people and displaced tens of thousands that necessitated a major defensive operation,” Mr. Elilan said.

“But as part of our counter-attack, we were careful to minimise civilian casualties – LTTE artillery was precisely directed at selected military targets in the Trincomalee base,” he said.

“Sri Lanka’s military is continuing to wage a campaign of deliberate displacement against the Tamils,” Mr. Elilan charged.

40,000 Tamil civilians from Trincomalee have fled their homes and sought safety in southern Tricnomalee/northern Batticaloa, and now the Sri Lankan military was blocking international and local aid agencies from accessing the displaced to help, he said.

The World Food Program (WFP) has material for only half the displaced people and that, moreover, for a very short time, he said.

Mr. Elilan said he had met with the officials of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, who have ascertained the extent of the humanitarian crisis in the Vergual/Vaharai area.

Although the vast numbers of displaced are known to the international agencies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Sri Lankan government is justifying the blocking of aid on the basis it is not needed.

The Government Agent (GA) for Trincomalee, a retired Sri Lanka Army Major General, is refusing to approve aid supplies also, Mr. Elilan told reporters.

The GA is justifies the blocking of aid to where the displaced have taken shelter by simply claiming everybody in that area has fled and no one is left to feed.

 

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