Tuesday, May 16, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

No ‘formal offer’ from India

COLOMBO, May 15 (PTI, UNI) — As the fighting raged near Jaffna, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga today told an all-party meeting that she would take a decision on the recent Indian offer to mediate between her government and the LTTE only after receiving an official intimation from India.

The Indian mediation offer figured at the meeting called by Chandrika to apprise leaders of all political parties of the situation in the embattled Jaffna peninsula.

The issue was raised at the meeting by moderate Tamil political parties immediately after a detailed presentation was made by Deputy Defence Minister, Gen Anuruda Ratwatte on the army’s efforts to defend Jaffna.

When asked by Vice-President of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) Ananda Sangari about government’s response to Indian mediation, Chandrika said she has not yet received an official intimation from Indian government.

Sri Lankan troops, backed by the air force cover, today relentlessly bombarded positions of the LTTE and reported “drastic drop” in the intensity of rebels’ attacks on the embattled Jaffna town even as 15 guerrillas and three security personnel were killed in the fighting.

The army, which was under tremendous pressure for the past few weeks to fight back and save the Jaffna peninsula from falling into the hands of the LTTE, said today that the intensity of the fighting in Jaffna has “dropped drastically” during the past 72 hours with the LTTE appeared to be in a state of “disarray and collapse in the face of mounting casualties.”

A government statement here said 15 rebels, including a women guerrilla and three soldiers, were killed in six different encounters in the peninsula yesterday.

Air force jets were pounding the position held by the LTTE who had attempted to breach army defences at Columbuthurai within the Jaffna municipal limits.

The statement also said much of the encounters between the army and small bands of the LTTE guerrillas took place at Nagerkovil, Kvilkandy, Colombothurai and Ampan areas.

The announcement of drop in the fighting comes just as Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga met leaders of all political parties to brief them about the situation in Jaffna.

The latest Sri Lankan Government claim came as delegates from 15 Asian and European countries and more than 100 non-governmental agencies arrived in Kathmandu to take part in a conference to end use of child soldiers.

The conference aims to give momentum to a global campaign to ban the use of children in war and produce a comprehensive assessment of the problem in the region.

A government spokesman said 271 terrorists had been killed and more than 500 injured during the past five days of intense fighting.

The Sri Lanka air force damaged a vital telecommunication centre of the LTTE at Poonaryn on Friday due to which they have been unable to contact their cadres effectively.

“We are doing air raids and at the moment, the advance of the terrorists is very slow,’’ an air force spokesman said. The LTTE positions around Jaffna had been successfully targeted in the past three days of bombing, military sources said.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Supreme Court today ruled that the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution would not be violated by the military censorship.

The government said six civilians were killed and 18 wounded when the LTTE rebels today fired artillery shells at Gurunagar, one of the suburbs of Jaffna town.

It said the civilian casualties took place when the LTTE fired artillery shells into Gurunagar from the rebel-controlled areas in Pooneryn, situated across the Jaffna lagoon. 

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