Friday, May 12, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Lankan jets pound LTTE areas
96 rebels among 131 killed

COLOMBO, May 11 (PTI) — Sri Lankan air force planes today pounded LTTE positions as fierce fighting raged near Jaffna town tonight which left 131 persons, 96 LTTE rebels and 35 troops, dead as the government denied reports that the army’s only airbase in the peninsula at Palaly has come under rebel attack.

Israeli-built Kfir fighter jets were bombarding LTTE bunkers at Ariyali, Thanankilappu and Pooneryn since early morning, a government press note said. Some of the positions were completely destroyed, it said.

Admitting heavy fighting on several fronts in the Jaffna peninsula, the statement said troops continued to hold on to the road bridge at Navatkuli near Jaffna town.

“Many attempts by the terrorists to advance towards the bridge have been repulsed by the troops. However, small groups of terrorists continued to occupy a small stretch of the main highway just 1 km north-west of the Navatkuli bridge,” it said.

Tamil rebels today said they would continue their assault on Jaffna. But the government statement said troops also attacked batches of rebels who attempted to remove the bodies of their colleagues strewn on the battleground.

An official press note said LTTE agents have been spreading rumours that Palaly airbase, 35 km south of Jaffna town, was attacked and asserted the base was fully functional.

“Although the terrorists are making desperate attempts to advance further, troops are determined and so far all such attempts have been repulsed,” it added.

The press note said while the rebels managed to breach defence lines at Ariyalai, about 5 km from Jaffna town, troops managed to repulse all attempts by rebels from 7 am to 9 pm yesterday to break army defences, at Thanankilappu, another point north of Jaffna where the rebels attacked simultaneously.

Troops also repulsed several attempts of the rebels to enter through a lagoon at Thanankilappu. Some guerrillas even attempted to swim through the lagoon to reach the army defences.

Troops and rebels clashed in the eastern province of Amprai where two armed militants had been killed, it said.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Government today unveiled fresh measures to raise money for its war against the Tamil rebels, saying that it immediately needed Rs 12 billion.

Deputy Finance Minister Gamini Peiris told Parliament the government planned to raise the national security levy to 6.5 per cent from the current 5.5 per cent and issue some Rs 10 billion worth of additional treasury bills this year.

“The government will raise the money ensuring there is no impact on inflation,” Mr Peiris told Parliament, adding that the government had no plans to increase the 12.5 per cent goods and services tax or introduce a surcharge on income tax.

He said the government would ensure its Budget deficit did not exceed 8 per cent of the gross domestic product. The government earlier this week raised excise duty on cigarettes and liquor.Back


PM rules out recognition to Tamil Eelam

NEW DELHI, May 11 (PTI) — Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today ruled out granting recognition to Tamil Eelam in the event of Jaffna falling to the LTTE as Norway said that there could be no solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka without New Delhi playing a “positive role”.

“No, no”, Mr Vajpayee remarked to journalists in the Central Hall of Parliament when asked whether New Delhi would grant recognition to Tamil Eelam in case the LTTE took over Jaffna from Sri Lankan army control.

The Prime Minister also ruled out any change in India’s policy if the LTTE assumed control of the Jaffna peninsula saying it would not be the first time that such a development (fall of Jaffna) could be taking place.

Mr Vajpayee agreed with a questioner that the situation in the Jaffna peninsula was grave but made it clear that any Indian initiative for mediation had to be with the consent of the parties concerned.

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