Monday, May 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pressure mounts on LTTE’

COLOMBO, May 28 (AFP) — Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tigers traded artillery and mortar bomb fire in the northern peninsula of Jaffna despite a unilateral truce offered by the rebels, the government said today.

The separatist LTTE attacked military defence lines at Columbuthurai and Chavakachcheri sectors throughout yesterday, the government said in a statement.

“Troops engaged the suspected terrorist artillery and mortar positions with own artillery and mortars,” the statement said without giving details of casualties.

The exchanges came as defence authorities brushed aside the 12-hour unilateral truce offered by the LTTE and described it as a ploy to regroup.

“We are not going to take note of what they say in press notes,” a military spokesman said, referring to a statement issued by the LTTE from their London office which claimed the truce was to allow civilians to get to safer areas.

The spokesman said the rebels were under mounting pressure as the military poured new weapons into the Jaffna battlefield. The army had now introduced multi-barrel rocket launchers it did not possess before, he said.

In a statement issued late yesterday, the government accused the LTTE of trying to assume a “pseudo bravado” among the civilian population in the Jaffna peninsula.

“The LTTE which is completely bewildered, is continuing its carnage of innocent Tamil civilians due to their not responding to the fraudulent press notes of the LTTE,” the government statement said.

International aid workers said the Jaffna region appeared to be relatively quiet yesterday and there was no mass exodus of civilians from Thenmarachchi in response to the LTTE call.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s main Opposition staged a mass religious service in a southern pilgrim town seeking divine intervention to restore peace in the embattled island, party officials said today.

Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe led a motorcade of some 500 vehicles and arrived yesterday at Kataragama, 280 km south of the Capital, to pray for an end to the seemingly unending Tamil separatist war.

“We are praying for peace and to ensure that the country won’t go to pieces,” Mr Wickremesinghe said by telephone from Kataragama, a place of worship for Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and some Christians too.

The motorcade was organised despite a government ban on all political processions in line with the draconian emergency regulations promulgated on May 3.


Refugees arrive

RAMESHWARAM, May 28 (UNI) — Seventy Sri Lankan refugees belonging to 21 families arrived this evening. Three boats which brought the refugees, 22 men, 23 women, 25 children, dropped them on an islet, 1 km away from the Indian water. An Indian Coast Guard helicopter, which was engaged in air surveillance, found the refugees on the sand stretch early today and informed Ramanthapuram District Collector Manibharathi. 

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