South Asian Affairs

Sri Lanka rebuffs talks appeal with Tamil Tiger Rebels

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan government has rejected a call by international donors for Tamil Tiger rebels to negotiate terms of surrender with the government. Talking to BBC, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that the government would accept only “unconditional surrender”.

The US-led donors have urged the Tigers to consider laying down their arms to avoid further bloodshed after a series of major defeats on the battlefield. Fears are rising for tens of thousands of civilians trapped by the fighting. Meanwhile officials say the army has captured the last known rebel naval base in the north-east of the island.

Talking to BBC, Rajapaksa said, “There is no question of negotiations on surrender. The rebels should surrender unconditionally. They should lay down their arms first.” He ruled out any amnesty for top rebel leaders, but said that “lower level cadres” would be “given amnesty, retrained, given vocational training and integrated into mainstream society”.

Rajapakse also rejected US-led calls for a ceasefire, saying that the rebels had used ceasefire time “only to regroup and attack security forces”. “When the government declared a 48-hour ceasefire period last week, the rebels used the period to launch suicide attacks near the frontlines using three trucks loaded with explosives,” he said.

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Mubashar Nizam

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