Sunday, May 7, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Lanka mounts air strikes on LTTE
Vajpayee calls all-party meeting

COLOMBO, May 6 (AFP) — The Sri Lankan air force retaliated against Tamil Tiger artillery and mortar attacks in northern Sri Lanka with intense air strikes, the government said today.

Air force planes launched the attack on LTTE troops on the northern and southern flanks of the Elephant Pass army garrison that fell to the rebels on April 22, the government said.

In a statement, the government said the LTTE had wounded four soldiers with artillery and mortars on the defences of Nagarkovil and north of the town of Pallai which the rebels took last week.

“Although there was no intense fighting, terrorists were reportedly concentrating in areas north of Elephant Pass,” the government statement said.

“All troops are in a state of maximum alert and readiness to thwart any LTTE attack.”

There was no immediate reaction from the guerrillas to military claims.

The government has vowed to defend the northern peninsula of Jaffna, which they captured from the LTTE in December, 1995.

The Tigers maintained a de facto separate state there for nearly five years.

The government gave itself sweeping powers to arrest as the Tiger rebels mounted a serious threat on the peninsula where the military has thousands of soldiers.

The government said some 9,728 civilians had been displaced due to the fighting in the Pallai area of the peninsula and local officials had arranged to provide them with accommodation.

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has convened a meeting of all opposition leaders on Monday to brief the recent developments in Sri Lanka.

An official spokesperson of the Prime Minister’s Office said the meeting would be held in Parliament House.

Mr Vajpayee has already had consultations with the allies from Tamil Nadu and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in the past few days on the Sri Lanka issue.

Mr Vajpayee is expected to discuss with them New Delhi’s stand on the evolving situation in the context of the reported Sri Lankan pleas for assistance from India in the face of LTTE advances in the Jaffna peninsula.

India has ruled out military intervention in the conflict but could consider humanitarian assistance as and when it was sought.

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