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Asia

Sri Lanka Responds to Suicide Attack

Sri Lanka's air force carried out raids on a suspected Tamil Tiger Training base in the far north of the country on Monday. According to the Sri Lankan military, the site was being used by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) to train suicide bombers.

A Sri Lankan soldier stands guard in Colombo

A Sri Lankan soldier stands guard in Colombo

People in the embattled north of the island did not have to wait long for a response to Sunday's bombing. Within hours the Sri Lanka air force struck at a camp allegedly used by the Tamil Tigers. Monday's air strike was clearly designed to demonstrate the will of the Colombo government not to leave terror attacks by the Tamils unanswered.

Sunday's bombing struck at the heart of the Sri Lankan government. Highways Minister Jeyraj Fernandopule and 13 others were killed in a suicide attack near the capital Colombo. They were attending a Marathon Race to mark the forthcoming Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

Attacks by LTTE a response to army advances

Fernandopulle, who was a vocal critic of the Tamil Tigers and a member of Sri Lanka's delegation to the peace talks with the guerrillas, which failed in January this year. He is the second government minister to be assassinated this year. D.M. Dassanayake, the minister for nation building, was killed in a roadside bombing in January, just days after the Sri Lankan government announced the end of a six year truce brokered by Norway.

The government believes the recent spate of attacks has been triggered by significant advances by the Sri Lankan army in the rebel held North and East Rohita Bogollagama, Minister for external affairs concurs and says that

"I believe recent developments show how much progress we have made both on the eastern as well as the northern fronts. The military engagement is very much targeted against the Tigers and the terrorists. Fighting terrorism is our paramount goal, and restoring democracy and a pluralistic society."

Fears of escalation in violence

Meanwhile fears of further escalation in violence continue and the Sri Lankan government has asked high profile targets and the general public to be vigilant in the face of the increased threat.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting for an independent state in the North and East of the island in a 25-year civil war that has killed an estimated 70,000 people. Hopes of an enduring solution were dashed when Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa formally scrapped a 6-year truce in January this year, accusing the rebels of using it to re-group and re-arm. The rebel LTTE has responded with a series of attacks on military as well as civil targets in the otherwise peaceful south of the island.

  • Date 07.04.2008
  • Author DW Staff 07/04/2008
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  • Date 07.04.2008
  • Author DW Staff 07/04/2008
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/Lryb