COLOMBO May 22, Reuter; Sri Lankan troops mounting an offensive against Tamil separatist guerrillas in the Jaffna peninsula have destroyed tebel bunkers and camps and pushed forward their own perimeters, official sources said today.

They said troops had set up forward positions after clearing a two km (one mile) radius around the main airport at Palaly, 16 kn (10 miles), north of Jaffna city, and around nearby military camps at Thondamannar and Vasavilan.

“The aim of the whole military exercise is to take a forward position so that our camps would be safer”, a government spokesman said.

The government revealed the offensive as it told New Delhi it was deeply disturbed about Indian press reports that the South Indian State of Tamil Nadu had given large sums of money to Tamil rebels.

Diplomatic sources said up to 5,000 soldiers had been sent in for the offensive, reinforcing 2,500 to 3,000 men stationed in the northern peninsula. Many of the troops were sent by sea, they said.

Referring to persistent rumours of a military buildup and offensive in Jaffna in the past few days, the sources said: “The military has been trying to keep it under wraps and the objective of the action is still unclear”.

The Jaffna peninsula, home to 800,000 Tamils, has for two years been dominated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) whose guerrillas have largely bottled up government troops in their camps.

The government has said the Tigers’ Deputy Jaffna Commander Codenamed Radha, was among those killed in the offensive.

The Tigers are the largest of five main rebel groups fighting for an independent homeland in the north nad east for Sir Lanka’s two million strong Tamil minority. The conflict has cost more than 6,000 lives in four years.


The Colombo government demanded an explanation from India on Indian press reports that the southern state of Tamil Nadu had given large sums of money to the LTTE and its ally, the Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students (EROS).

According to the reports 30 million rupees (2,300,000 dollars) has been handed over to the Sri Lankan rebels in Madras, the Tamil Nadu capital, since May 15.

A government statement in Colombo said Foreign Minister Shamul Hameed summoned an Indian High Commission official and told him Sri Lanka was “deeply disturbed” by the reports.

“Sri Lanka has not heard any denial of these reports, surely India must clear the air. India owes an explanation to the international community in general and to Sri Lanka in particular”, it said. Hameed told the Indian official the reported payments conflicted with India’s responsibilities as the main mediator in the conflict. “Sri Lanka appreciates the fact that India was a federal form of government but the Centre cannot claim ignorance or lack of control over the actions of constituent states”, the government said.

Article extracted from this publication >>  May 29, 1987