COLOMBO, JUNE 5, REUTER — About 2,500 Indian soldiers will begin leaving Sri Lanka next week at the start of India’s phased withdrawal of some of its troops on the island, Sri Lankan defense ministry officials sald on ‘Sunday.

India officially puts its troop strength on the Island at 52,000. Sri Lankan officials said It had between 60,000 to 70,000 troops, brought over to implement last July’s pact to end a rebellion by minority Tamils.

The ministry officials said the soldiers, belonging to artillery and armored regiments, would probably leave aboard Indian ships from the Eastern port of Trincomalee.

Journalists will be invited to witness a departure ceremony on Tuesday at Trincomalee but it was still unclear where the soldiers would actually start leaving that day or on Wednesday, they said.

No one from the Indian high commission was immediately available for comment but its spokeswoman, Primrose Sharma, said on Saturday that she could neither confirm nor deny the process of withdrawal would begin next week.

“The departure of some of the troops is very much on the cards,” she said.

Next week’s withdrawal comes on the eve of June 9 provincial council elections in the southern province and may help President Junius Jayewardene apperse hardliners in the majority Sinmarlese community who are angry at the presence of Indian troops in the country.

Many Sinaalese feel the pact to solve the Tamil rebellion with its proposals creating semiautonomous provincial councils made too many concessions to Tamils,

Article extracted from this publication >> June 10, 1988


Article extracted from this publication >>