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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2524

News analysis: Who is behind the escalation of violence in the north and east?

Colombo, 17 May, (Asiantribune.com): The rise in violence, particularly killings in Jaffna, after the first round of talks in Geneva, is a disturbing trend that is yet to be investigated by the Police, judicial inquiries and the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission.

"We can't say who's clearly responsible for the killings, as there are still many questions on who may have been behind it," said Helen Olafsdottir, spokeswoman for the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission to the New York Times. (May 16, 2006).

The mystery of who is behind the killings in places controlled by the government, the LTTE and other Tamil groups has not been resolved by the conflicting reports and lack of evidence.

The LTTE accuses the Security Forces. This charge is frequently advanced by the LTTE saying that the killings take place within a few meters of the Security Camps or checkpoints. Ulf Hendrickson, the retired Swedish major general who commands the monitoring force, told the New York Times (May 16, 2006) that his Monitoring Mission “had received reports of killings in which the police or soldiers could be implicated, taking pains to note that it was not the job of his mission to investigate individual killings, but to present the information to the proper authorities.”

He added: "I don't know how the security forces are involved. It could be individuals, it could be lower levels, it could be fundamentalist elements in the security forces." He said the police had promised to investigate.

Minister Nimal Sripla de Silva, the Government Chief Negotiator at the Geneva talks, said it "condemns all forms of reprisal attacks against innocent civilians."

Government sources say that it is aware of the attempts by the LTTE to provoke the Sinhala community to retaliate and it is taking all precautions to prevent a backlash against the Tamils which would favor the LTTE.

Political observers agree that there is no official policy of the government to attack Tamil civilians though it is possible that individual police and soldiers may go on the rampage provoked by the LTTE attacks on their camps or checkpoints.

The LTTE also accuses the “paramilitaries” meaning Douglas Devnanda’s group or their former commander Col. Karuna who has broken away. Analysts agree that the rivalry between the two main Tamil groups and the other anti-LTTE Tamil parties have contributed to the increasing violence. This week, for instance, the LTTE cadres gate-crashed into a Batticoloa hospital and gunned down two cadres of Karuna’s group recovering from battle injuries.

Karuna’s group has openly declared that it has called off the unilateral ceasefire announced in January as the LTTE has launched its new offensive against them saying that if the Government doesn’t disarm the “paramilitaries” then they will. The killings in the east of prominent LTTE politicians, like Joseph Pararajasingham, MP, are attributed to Karuna’s Group though they have not acknowledged it.

Douglas Devananda has denied any involvement with the killings despite his cadres in Jaffna have been either attacked or killed by the LTTE cadres. The LTTE has accused Devananda of killing of two workers in a newspaper office in Jaffna recently. Devananda’s office has denied such allegations saying that it is not in his interests to kill Tamils.

However, both Karuna’s group and Devananda’s EPDP have accused the LTTE of deliberately increasing the violence in the east and the north to smear them as being agents of the Government. A spokesperson for Devananada said:

“The LTTE is relying on the accusation that the “paramilitaries” are with the government to press their latest excuse to keep out of the talks. They have to prove this and escalating the killings of Tamils in the north and the east is their way of proving that the anti-LTTE groups are involved in killing the Tamils.”

The documented trend reveals that the LTTE has increased its violence since the end of the Geneva talks. The LTTE has been preparing for Eelam IV according to the pronouncement made by Velupillai Prabhakaran in his last annual speech delivered on November 27 – his birthday. He has also admitted that his preparations to launch his war were postponed because of the damage caused by the Tsunami. The standard LTTE tactic has been to target his Tamil rivals and the Sinhalese to provoke a backlash.

The recent explosion of violence in Trincomalee where the Sinhala community went on the rampage against the Tamils is a clear example of LTTE provoking violence to gain political mileage. All community sources agree that the LTTE planted the bomb on the cycle placed near the vegetable market in Trincomalee. The explosion was hear right the round world with the BBC repeating the pro-Tamil media figure of 40,000 fleeing the locality.

According to analysts the LTTE has thrived on creating chaos, backlashes and killings. The current trend conforms to its past performances. The other parties too may resort to violence but not to the same extent as the LTTE which has had no strategy other than increasing and decreasing violence as when it suits its political needs.

- Asian Tribune -

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