Tamil Tigers Repulse Sri Lankan Ground Attack

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Sri Lankan army vehicles smoulder after a Tamil Tiger assault
Sri Lankan army vehicles smoulder after a Tamil Tiger assault

LIBERATION Tigers repulsed a Sri Lanka Army (SLA) ground operation towards the Northern Forward Defence Line (FDL) positions between Ki’laali and Mukamaalai in the early hours of Wednesday, Irasiah Ilanthirayan, the military spokesman of the Liberation Tigers told TamilNet.

The ground operation, launched by the SLA with heavy artillery, Multi Barrel Rocket Fire and with the support of Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) assault helicopter gunships at 5.20am was thwarted around 7.30am, following two hours of intense fighting, Ilanthirayan said.

The SLA has suffered heavy casualties.

The casualties of the SLA were airlifted in seven sorties by the SLAF helicopters.

One LTTE fighter was killed in action.

The details of the weapons and ammunitions seized from the SLA troops who advanced into LTTE territory in tanks with mortar fire, would be provided once the clearing mission has completed, according to the LTTE spokesman.

Also on Wednesday morning the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) launched a heavy artillery barrage on Liberation Tigers of Tamil eelam (LTTE) controlled Poonakari (Ponneryn) region in the Northern Forward Defence Line (FDL) as sources in Jaffna said Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) and SLA troops were being deployed, readying for a ground offensive.

Artillery and Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL) fire began rocking the Northern Forward Defence Line (FDL) in Poonakari region with loud explosions at 5.30am, sources in Ki’linochchi said.

The LTTE was retaliating with artillery fire.

On Tuesday the Sri Lankan parliament adopted a motion moved by the Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wikremanayake on behalf of the government to extend the State of Emergency for another month with a majority of 120 votes. 124 parliamentarians voted for the motion and four against.

Parliamentarians of the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA), Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) and the dissident group of the main opposition United National Party (UNP), voted with the government.

Only four parliamentarians of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) who were present at that time in parliament registered their votes against the motion.

Members of the main opposition United National Party (UNP) abstained.

The State of Emergency is being extended every month by the parliament since it was proclaimed in August 2005.

Also, Human Rights groups have urged the UK to charge ‘Colonel’ Karuna with war crimes.

Karuna, a former Tamil Tiger commander and later the leader of the TMVP paramilitary group that has been deployed by the Sri Lankan forces in their war against the Tigers, has been arrested in Britain on suspicion of immigration offences, including travelling on a false passport.

International human rights groups are now calling on the UK government to investigate Vinayagamoorthi Muraleetharan (Karuna) for war crimes and are assembling evidence to see whether they can trigger a prosecution, reports said.

Amid fears by rights groups that Karuna would be deported to Sri Lanka, some press reports said he had applied for asylum in Britain.

Muraleetharan alias Karuna, was detained last Friday in a combined operation by immigration officials and the Metropolitan police. The raid took place in London; his wife is also understood to be in the country.

He was reportedly ousted last month following an internal coup in his paramilitary organisation, the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP), which runs armed camps in eastern Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lanka government issued a National Identity Card under the name ‘Vigneswaran Mathankumar’ on 10.05.2004, a month after renegade LTTE commander Mr Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan (alias Karuna) fled Batticaloa.

Karuna, the Tamil Tigers’ former eastern commander, had formed the TMVP in 2004 after his six week rebellion against the LTTE leadership collapsed, whereupon he defected to his erstwhile enemy, the Sri Lankan armed forces.

He was also allegedly used by the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s foreign intelligence agency, in a failed attempt to forge a front between an India based paramilitary group, the ENDLF and the Karuna Group in the east.

This year the TMVP itself split, with the second-in-command, Pillaiyaan, breaking away, apparently with Sri Lankan government support.

The Hindustan Times said that the Sri Lankan armed forces did not need Karuna any more and were promoting Pillaiyaan instead.

The UK Home Office has confirmed that the former Tamil Tiger commander was being held in an immigration detention. It would not say whether his case was being studied by its internal war crimes unit.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Coalition to Stop Child Soldiers are all investigating the possibility of initiating an official investigation.

Charges can be brought in the UK by the government against those suspected of war crimes or torture committed anywhere in the world.

‘Under article six of the Geneva conventions,’ an Amnesty spokesman said, ‘if the UK is satisfied there’s reasonable testimony of torture the government would have to start a preliminary inquiry under UK law.

‘If one person was to complain with credible evidence then there would have to be an investigation. We are in touch with international groups about bringing evidence to this country to help the police and prosecution services.’

James Ross, legal and policy director of Human Rights Watch in New York, said: ‘We have raised our concerns with the UK government. We would like (the government) to see whether there’s a valid basis under the principle of universal jurisdiction to prosecute Col Karuna for possible war crimes or human rights abuses such as torture.’

Lucia Withers, Asia programme manager of the Coalition to Stop Child Soldiers in London, said a possible prosecution of Col Karuna would be an ‘exemplary’ case.

The question is whether in Britain universal jurisdiction for war crimes extends to the use of children, she added.

Karuna has been accused of conscripting children.

The Home Office said: ‘We have a war crimes unit, formed in 2004, to ensure that we are not providing sanctuary to war criminals. Where appropriate we refer cases to the Metropolitan police for criminal action.’

Human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, fear Karuna will be deported by the Home Office before he can be charged in Britain.

Meanwhile, the Hindustan Times reported that Karuna, who had been arrested by the UK authorities for travelling on a false passport, had applied for asylum.