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Sri Lankan peace boat in rough weather

Source: PTI
April 26, 2006 02:30 IST
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In a virtual collapse of the peace process in Sri Lanka, the Air Force and Navy on Tuesday bombed Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam positions in Northeast shortly after a bid on the life of the Army chief by a woman rebel suicide bomber killing at least 10 soldiers and civilians at the Army Headquarters in Colombo.

The Army Chief Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka was critically injured when the suicide bomber disguised as a pregnant woman blew herself inside the heavily fortified Army headquarters, in the first such attack in two years.

Shortly after the attack, Sri Lankan Air Force and Navy began bombing Tamil Tiger rebel positions in the northeast.

Palitha Kohona, the head of the government's Peace Secretariat, said the rebels had fired 'some shells' at military camps in northeastern Trincomalee after the suicide bombing.

He said the retaliatory bombing by the Air Force and Navy was 'to deter the LTTE from carrying out further provocative attacks. Scandinavian truce monitors also said the Air Force was targeting LTTE positions in the embattled northeast.

"We have just received confirmation of air strikes against LTTE south of Trincomalee," Ulf Henricsson, head of the Scandinavian Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, told the Swedish news agency TT.

"We do not know what they are bombing. It is probably a limited operation, striking planned targets."

Tamil politicians expressed fears that the suicide bombing and the retaliatory strikes meant a virtual collapse of the peace process.

However, Kohona said he still expected the Tigers to return to the negotiating table and that the government action was limited to showing them that negotiations were the only way out.

"The government is still committed to peace," Kohona added.

There was no immediate reaction from the Tigers. There was no indication on casualties following the air and naval strikes. The Tigers and Colombo were to have met on Monday in Geneva, Switzerland for two-day talks on salvaging their faltering truce, but the rebels indefinitely postponed the talks and did not cooperate with Norwegian peace envoys who tried to bring them back to the negotiating table.

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