LTTE — a ruthless militant organisation Press Trust of India Sunday, April 05, 2009, (Colombo)

6 04 2009

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which lost its last bastion of Pudukudiriyirippu to Sri Lankan forces on Sunday, gave a new dimension to militancy in the world by using suicide bombers and other guerilla attacks to maintain their struggle for a separate Tamil Eelam.

LTTE, led by Velupillai Prabhakaran — a school dropout from the secret jungles of Wanni in northern Sri Lanka for the past 30 years, has been accused of killing many Sri Lankan Sinhalese and Tamil leaders and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Starting as a liberation movement in the late 1970s to attain freedom for “oppressed” Tamils from the clutches of Sri Lankans, the LTTE later evolved as a ruthless organisation for whom violence became a legitimate tool to eliminate political opponents.

In its struggle for a separate Tamil homeland, 54-year-old Prabhakaran introduced suicide bombers, mostly young women, and targeted major government installations, including military headquarters and the lone international airport in Sri Lanka.

Prabhakaran founded the LTTE in the late 1970s and was first named as an accused in the murder of the mayor of Jaffna, the administrative headquarters of the Tamil Tigers’.

During the 1980s and early 90s, the organisation was also accused of committing terror acts in Tamil Nadu where it liquidated its militant rivals.

The LTTE is the only terrorist outfit in the world to have three armed forces wings — Tigers (ground), Sea Tigers (Navy) and Air Tigers — (Air Force).

Black Tigers, the suicide wing of LTTE, came into prominence when the Tigers’ launched their first suicide attack against a Sri Lankan Army camp killing 40 soldiers.

The LTTE became the first organisation in the world to employ women as soldiers in the battlefield.

Tamil Tigers and Prabhakaran, who were given refuge in Tamil Nadu under the then Central governments’ policy, lost sympathy in India after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi during campaigning in the state for the 1991 Lok Sabha polls.

It is alleged that Prabhakaran wanted to avenge the Indian prime minister’s decision in 1987 to deploy Indian peacekeeping force troops in Sri Lanka.

The Tamil Tigers are also blamed for the murder of the then Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa and a number of audacious attacks on the Sri Lankan Army installations.

The outfit has also earned the ire of human rights groups who allege that the LTTE recruits young children to fight against the Army.

LTTE, which is believed to be funded by Tamils living in Europe and other countries across the world, agreed for a ceasefire with Sri Lanka in 2002. But both sides continued to violate the Norway-brokered agreement which until it was formally abrogated by the Mahinda Rajapakse government.

Prabhakaran and the LTTE received a major blow when his confidant Colonel Karuna parted ways and formed his own outfit. However, he later converted as an opponent of the Tamil movement and is now serving as an MP.

Though his followers consider him as a freedom fighter struggling for Tamil emancipation from Sinhala oppression, various nations, including India, have banned his organisation and branded him as a terrorist.

The loss of Pudukudiriyirippu has confined the Tiger rebels to a 20 square km area marked as a ‘no-fire’ zone in northeastern Sri Lanka.

In January this year, the LTTE lost their de-facto capital of Kilinochchi in one of the biggest blows in 25 years of running battles, before being thrown out of another major stronghold Mullaittivu.

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Surrender or face rout, Rajapksa tells LTTE;

6 04 2009
Surrender or face rout, Rajapksa tells LTTE; toll reaches 480
T V Sriram
Colombo, Apr 6 (PTI) With the LTTE remnants, including its top leaders, believed to be hiding in a narrow strip teeming with civilians, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today asked them to lay down arms or “face rout” as troops braced for a final battle after killing 480 rebels in four days of fighting.

With the operation turning more complex after the rebels were forced into the no-fire zone, the security forces are now preparing to rescue over 70,000 Tamil civilians trapped there.

Rajapaksa said there will be no ceasefire with the rebels and maintained that the troops will free the civilians, who, the government alleges, are being held hostage by the LTTE.

The rebel remnants, including their supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran, second-in-command Pottu Amman and other senior commanders, are believed to be holed up in the 20 sq-km safety zone — a jungle strip along a beach in the north — after troops captured Pudukudiyirippu, the last LTTE bastion.

With recovery of more bodies of LTTE cadres from Pudukudiyirippu, the rebel toll in four days of close-quarter combat increased to 480, the military said today.

President Rajapaksa asked the LTTE, which have fought since 1983 for a separate homeland for Tamils in Sri Lanka, to surrender and avoid a “complete rout that is close now”.

“The only way out for the rebels is to save their lives, and if they lay down arms and surrender, it will save the lives of the trapped civilians too,” he said. PTI





Comment: Terrorism Isn’t Just Destroying Cricket In Pakistan

14 03 2009
Source: goal.com

In the wake of the recent Lahore attacks on Sri Lankan cricketers, Muhammed Wasim looks at the problems that Pakistani football is experiencing due to security concerns and terrorism.

14-Mar-2009 5:29:24 AM

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The terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan shocked the global sports community.

Football’s governing body FIFA called a special ‘crisis evaluation committee’ meeting with the South African 2010 organizers to upgrade or further beef up the security plans for the world’s biggest sporting events.

Safety measures for the 2010 World Cup will be reviewed again and again to make the venues hotels and cities more secure. Football has the greatest global appeal among all sports and therefore is the most probable target of terrorists.

As the sports become ever more popular, it is natural that terrorists – in whatever shape and form — would look to use that global interest. The tragedy of Munich Olympics in 1972 showed what kind of global platform terrorists could have to disseminate their power and demands.

In recent times, security obviously comes at the top of the list of priorities when any sporting event is planned. However, it is also a fact that countries where the law and order situation is fragile are more prone to terrorist attacks.

The Indian subcontinent has been facing problems of militancy and terrorism for more than a decade. However, the situation now is more alarming than ever before.

The sports community of the developed world has lately come to realize that the perpetrators of terrorism have no boundaries. They are not only nameless and faceless, but stateless too. They don’t want themselves to be confined to one particular region as the main objective before them is to terrorize people as much as possible.

Therefore games and sports, particularly those with global appeal, are obvious terrorist targets, as such attacks will earn them maximum attention.

At the moment, sporting activities are heavily destabilized in the subcontinent region. Within hours of the attack in Pakistan, the Bangladesh Cricket Association postponed a home series against Pakistan. The fate of the highly-publicized cricket competition, the Indian Premier League, is also undecided. Whatever happens, it’s a fact that sports fans will suffer more and more if nothing is done to ensure the safety of sports activities in the region.

As far as football is concerned in Pakistan, the situation is even worse. I have previously written about how religious militancy and ethnic parochialism has affected the game in the country.

Football used to be forbidden in some areas because of the ‘irreligious’ dress code of the game. In extreme cases, footballers have been tortured in the past and have died in terrorist attacks and in routine gang wars in Karachi.

It is another irony that as football is the game of poor masses in Pakistan, the teams and players are given the lowest priority in terms of security. Bartalan Bisciki, the noted Hungarian football coach, was selected last month by the Pakistan football association to coach the national team, but he refused to take up the job. He cited security fear in the country.

Domestic football events in the country are also suffering. Last week a Punjabi-based football club refused to play the semi-final of the PFF Club League in the war-affected province of Baluchistan. During the Pakistan Premier League, Pakistan Army FC’s match at Afghan FC was also shifted from Baluchistan, which deprived the Afghans of their home advantage.

These are tough times for Pakistan football. People must all be vigilant for the sake of the game they love.

Muhammed Wasim





Sri Lanka suicide blast kills 14, wounds minister

13 03 2009

Source: AP

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) – A suicide bomber attacked government ministers leading a procession to mark a Muslim festival in southern Sri Lanka, killing 14 people and severely wounding one of the officials.The government blamed Tamil Tiger separatists for Tuesday’s blast, which wounded 45 other people, saying the rebels had grown desperate in the
face of an army offensive that has driven them close to defeat after more than 25 years of civil war.If the assault was carried out by the Tigers, it shows that the guerrillas can still launch strikes far from their traditional strongholds in the north and east even as they face battlefield defeat.
As the military has pushed the rebels into an ever-shrinking sliver of territory in the north, human rights and aid groups have voiced concern for the fate of the tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the pocket. Heavy artillery attacks Tuesday killed at least 49 ethnic Tamil civilians and wounded hundreds of others, the top government health official in the war zone said.While fighting rages in the north, the suicide attacker struck in the southern town of Akuressa as six ministers led a procession toward a mosque for a ceremony to commemorate the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.Television footage showed men in white robes and caps slowly parading down the street before the blast sent them running in all directions. Afterward, charred bodies lay scattered among their torn clothes and severed limbs just outside the mosque compound’s gates.?I heard a huge sound, and then I saw people had fallen everywhere.

They were covered with blood and flesh, and the wounded people were screaming,? Ahamed Nafri, 29, said by telephone from the hospital in the nearby town of Matara.Police and bystanders hauled the badly bleeding Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Mahinda Wijesekara into a van. He was later flown to the capital for treatment to a head wound.Dr. Hector Weerasinghe, director of Colombo National Hospital, said the minister underwent three hours of surgery and was still in serious condition late Tuesday.The government said the attack killed 14 people and wounded 45 more.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s office said selecting a mosque on an Islamic festival for the attack showed the rebels ?hatred? of Muslims and strengthened the government’s resolve to defeat them.There was no indication Muslims were specifically targeted on Tuesday. However, the Tamil Tigers used violence to drive many Muslims and ethnic Sinhalese, who are mainly Buddhist, from areas dominated by Tamils, who are mostly Hindu.

In one of the bloodiest incidents, suspected rebels attacked a mosque in an eastern town in 1990 with guns, grenades and machetes, killing 140 worshippers.Muslims, many of them descendants of Arab or Indian traders, make up about 7 percent of Sri Lanka’s population. Many speak Tamil but the community has largely stayed out of the war.With most communication to the north severed, rebel spokesmen could not be reached for comment.

The Tamil Tigers have fought since 1983 for an independent state for the Tamil minority, which suffered decades of marginalization at the hands of governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000 people have been killed.





Police left us like sitting ducks, says referee

5 03 2009

Chris Broad, the ex-England batsman turned match referee who escaped injury in Tuesday’s attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers, castigated Pakistan yesterday for not providing the promised “presidential-style security” and accused the security services of fleeing the scene and leaving the visitors as “sitting ducks”.

As Pakistani police began investigating whether the gunmen were planning to take the whole squad hostage, Broad arrived at Manchester airport with scathing remarks about the way Pakistani police had handled the attack.

“After the incident there was not a sign of a policeman anywhere,” said Broad. “They had clearly gone, left the scene and left us to be sitting ducks. I am extremely angry that we were promised high-level security and in our hour of need that security vanished and we were left open to anything that the terrorists wanted.

“Questions need to be asked of Pakistan security. At every junction there are police with handguns controlling traffic, so how did the terrorists come to the roundabout and these guys do nothing about it?”

Sri Lanka’s team captain, Mahela Jayawardene, appeared to side with Broad, saying that the gunmen fought a one-sided battle. “They were not under pressure … nobody was firing at them,” he said.

But Pakistani officials were aghast at the suggestion. Ijaz Butt, the Pakistan cricket board chief, said: “How can Chris Broad say this when six policemen were killed?”

The assailants were carrying enough arms, ammunition, food and medical supplies to hold out for a prolonged period, perhaps several days. Pakistani police believe they could have been planning to board the bus and then put on the suicide vests that some were carrying, which would have enabled them to hold the entire team captive.

It may just have been the quick wits of the driver, who managed to speed the bus away, that averted a dramatic hostage situation. “From the inventory we have recovered, it seems they did not just mean to ambush the cavalcade,” said Mushtaq Sukhera, the head of the investigations department of the Lahore police force, in an interview with the Guardian. “It all suggests that they had planned something else, otherwise why were they carrying all these things?”

Sukhera would not speculate on the hostage plan, but other police officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said taking the bus seemed the most likely.

A huge quantity of firearms, grenades and other equipment was recovered from rucksacks dumped by the attackers, and from an abandoned car. There were also rocket-propelled grenade launchers, meaning that the terrorists were at least as heavily armed as the men who attacked Mumbai for three days in November.

The assailants carried significant quantities of food, bandages and antiseptic liquid. Each of the gunmen wore a bulky rucksack. Sukhera said each rucksack contained half a kilo of almonds, half a kilo of dried fruit, biscuits and water bottles, enough to keep them going for days.

Police yesterday made sweeping arrests, detaining some 50 people, though reports suggested none were the gunmen involved and they had only vague connections to the incident.

Sketches of four of the attackers were issued by the police. CCTV footage emerged showing how calmly the gunmen left the scene. The images showed the terrorists strolling through a nearby market after the attack, machine guns still in hand. The authorities for the first time admitted security lapses yesterday. The top official in the Lahore administration, Khusro Pervaiz, said the “security gaps are very vivid, very clear”. He said the outer cordon of the Sri Lankan team’s police escort was missing or did not respond. He also said the vehicles being used by the escort were inappropriate.





Lahore ‘Cricket’ attack may mark a shift in Pakistan

4 03 2009

Source: Asia Times

By Syed Saleem Shahzad, March 04, 2009.

KARACHI – Pakistan might recently have signed peace deals with militants in its tribal areas, including with vehement anti-establishment Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, but militants on Tuesday staged a brazen attack in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province and the second-largest city in the country.

The attack by 12 heavily armed gunmen on a convoy escorted by police transporting Sri Lankan cricketers to a match against Pakistan has set off alarm bells in the capital Islamabad that militants are now taking their battle into major urban centres.

At least five people died and six of the cricketers were injured in a 25-minute battle in which militants wearing backpacks and carrying AK-47s, rockets and grenades fought police. The assailants then all fled. The Sri Lankan cricketers have called off their tour and are heading home immediately.

The attack bore some similarity to that of 10 well-armed gunmen, also with backpacks, who rampaged through Mumbai in India last November, killing 140 people. They were later found to have connections to the banned Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“This was a planned terrorist attack. They had heavy weapons,” Salman Taseer, who heads the provincial government as governor of Punjab, was reported as saying. “These were the same methods and the same sort of people as hit Mumbai.”

Numerous Pakistani analysts have been quick to point a finger at India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for staging what they say is a tit-for-tat attack on Tuesday, although there is been no official announcement in this connection.

A press attache at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Islamabad thought it highly unlikely that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who a waging a bloody separatist war in Sri Lanka, had anything to do with Tuesday’s events.

Rather, judging by what was shown on Pakistani television, the attack is the hallmark of those that were waged by militants (many of them Punjabi) against Indian security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir up until a few years ago. They were trained by the Indian cell of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

In 2005-06, these militants joined forces with the Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan resistance after Pakistan closed down their training camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a move that changed the dynamics of the war theater in the region. Beside the Mumbai attack, Tuesday’s assault was similar to the storming of the Serena Hotel in the Afghan capital of Kabul in January 2008 and the unsuccessful July 2008 attack on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul. In all of these incidents, the attackers abandoned their weapons and quickly melted into a thickly populated area of the city where, apparently, they were whisked away by waiting colleagues.

Retired Lieutenant General Hamid Nawaz, a former interim minister the Interior and a close aide of former president General Pervez Musharraf, commented to Asia Times Online, “This proves that striking peace deals [with militants] will not serve any purpose and there is a need to handle them with iron hands. I blame the government for negligence.

“Providing a single elite police commando bus was not enough. They should have been provided VIP [very important people] security like the state provides for governors and chief ministers. Traffic should have been blocked on their route,” Nawaz said.

Former Pakistani cricketer Zaheer Abbas said, “I am not a politician to comment on who was behind it, but it has damaged Pakistani cricket very badly. I don’t understand why anybody would target Sri Lankans because they don’t have any role in the region. There might be some forces who want to damage the cause of Pakistan and Pakistani cricket.”

Possible attackers

Pakistani analysts, including retired General Hamid Gul, who is a former head of the ISI, blame India’s RAW.

However, there is no precedence for RAW having the capability to carry out such attacks in Pakistan. Its operations in Pakistan have been of two kinds, according to the records of Pakistani security agencies, documented in files and books narrated by their retired officials:

Small bomb blasts in urban centres.

The use of Indophile political parties such as the Awami League in 1970, the Pashtun sub-nationalist Awami National Party, the Baloch separatist group the Baloch Libration Army and the Muttehida Quami Movement.

However, these parties were always used in a limited political context. For creating a law-and-order situation in the country, RAW has always used bomb blasts and other small-level sabotage activities. It has never had the capacity, like the ISI had in India, to use armed groups to carry out guerrilla activities in Pakistan.

More pertinent is to view Tuesday’s attack in the context of the peace deals in the Swat Valley and the tribal areas which have stopped the fighting between ethnic Pashtun-dominated militants and the Pakistani army.

Prior to the signing of the deals, the matter of the release of militants who did not belong to the Swat area was raised, that is, non-Pashtun militants. These included Maulana Abdul Aziz, who was apprehended while trying to flee the radical Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad in July 2007.

However, after deciding on the level of compensation packages for the families of militants killed or injured by the security forces and other matters related to Swat and the tribal areas, the matter of non-Pashtun militants was deferred and the peace agreements were signed.

In effect, non-Pashtun militants have been ignored and the attack in Lahore could be a bloody message to the government that the “Punjabi militants” have the capacity to cripple urban centres at any time and place of their choosing.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online’s Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com






Sri Lanka lost $200 billion due to terrorism

1 03 2009
Source: Financial Times


By Quintus Perera

Terrorism has cost Sri Lanka over $200 billion in terms of low business confidence, investors shying away and tourism suffering while, pressure exerted on the currency and borrowing has also become difficult, according to the country’s foreign secretary.

Dr Palitha T.B. Kohona, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, making a presentation on “Sri Lanka – Progress Towards Peace and Prosperity” as the keynote speaker at the Rotary District Conference last week, said however that the country’s resilience has risen to these challenges. He said successive governments have continued the process of ensuring economic development amidst vast difficulties.

He said the country continued to advance economically and considerable success has been demonstrated in accomplishing the Millennium Development Goals, as agreed at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000 which aims at reducing poverty and improving the lives of people. He said that poverty in Sri Lanka has dropped.

Dr Kohona said that despite the adverse publicity and the determined efforts (by terrorists) to destroy the country, even from within, Sri Lanka received a record level of FDI in excess of US $ 800 million in 2007.
He observed the cynical willingness of some to accept allegations made by organizations overtly sympathetic to the LTTE and some NGOs, who have a vested interest in continuing their operations in the country which is a tourist haven.

Nalin Fernando, Governor, Rotary International District 3220, Sri Lanka elaborated on Rotary’s social and humanitarian activities carried out in Sri Lanka while Aziz Memon, Representative of the Rotary International President from Pakistan made a detailed presentation of Rotary International activities.