07/31/2006, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Tigers: ceasefire "null", war is on

This was declared by a rebel leader in Trincomalee after security forces yesterday launched a ground offensive after four days of air raids.

Colombo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – War is on again in Sri Lanka between the government forces and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tami Eelam (LTTE). This morning, Elilan, leader of the LTTE political wing in the eastern district of Trincomalee, declared that the ceasefire agreement has become "null and void at the moment". He said government troops were continuing to advance toward their territory in a water supply dispute. "The war has begun. It is the government which has started the war," he added. Elilan is not the main Tiger spokesman but he is one of their higher-ranking officials.

In recent months the ceasefire has been violated several times over by both parties; between 700 and 800 people have been killed, including many civilians. Clashes have been under way in the north-east between the LTTE and the security forces since 27 July. The security forces launched a series of air raids against rebel positions and since yesterday they are also pressing ahead with a ground offensive. Colombo launched the offensive to free Mavilaru canal near the village of Kallar in Trincomalee that irrigates the land of Sinhalese farmers but has been blocked by the Tigers. According to the rebel version, however, this is all a pretext to enter the territories under their control.

As the situation deteriorates, Denmark and Finland have decided to withdraw from the ceasefire monitoring mission (SLMM), made up of observers from five northern European countries. This suits the Tigers, who had asked those observers to leave before 1 September, because the European Union had defined them as "terrorists".

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