Colombo, Sri Lanka — suspected separatist Tamil guerrillas killed two politicians and kidnapped three others early Tuesday, and gunned down seven policemen in an apparent attempt to disrupt the government’s peace efforts.

The attacks marked the first major rebel operation since Tamil leaders agreed to a ceasefire last month. The violence came as some Tamil political leaders were nearing agreement with the government on an Indian mediated peace accord.

The five politicians were all abducted from their homes in the northern district of Jaffna, 375 miles north of the capital of Colombo, early Tuesday. They were former members of Parliament from the north from the now outlawed Tamil United Liberation Front, or TULF, Sri Lanka’s biggest Tamil political party.

A few hours later, the bullet riddled bodies of two of them Murugesu Alalsunderam, 50, TULF administrative secretary, and Viswanather Dharma lingam, 67 were found near their homes.

The three others were still missing Tuesday night, authorities said.

As the kidnappings occurred, more than 200 suspected rebels in east Sri Lanks attacked a police station in the town of Eravur with rocket propelled grenades and mortars. During a three-hour battle, at least seven policemen were killed and 12 were injured. There were no reports of any guerrilla casualties.

No individuals or groups immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. But Defense Ministry officials said they believed rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, was involved.

The Liberation Tigers and the Tamil United Liberation Front have been at odds over how best to pursue their common goal of establishing a Tamil nation separate from Sri Lanka’s majority Sinhalese population.

Sinhalese outnumber Tamils by about 10 to 1, but the Tamils, who ancestors came from India, form a majority in the north.

The front, which advocates autonomy for the predominately Tamil northern Sri Lanka, was the largest Opposition party in Parliament until its members were forced to resign because they refused to take an oath denouncing separatism.

Political observers said the attacks on the Tamil politicians were intended as warnings against signing a peace accord with the government.

The front’s leaders and the People’s Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam, or PLOTE, another Tamil militant group, reportedly favor new proposals from the government to share power with the Tamils.

The proposals were made in New Delhi recently during talks mediated by Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. They were to be reviewed by the Sri Lanka Cabinet Wednesday in preparation for the possible signing of an accord.

The Liberation Tigers participated in an earlier round of negotiations, but refused to attend the last sessions.

In a statement issued Sunday, the group said it would agreed only to the creation of an independent state, and pledged more violence if their demand was not met.


In New Delhi, the Indian government said the renewed violence could hurt prospects for a peaceful settlement.

“We are shocked and distressed at the senseless killings,” a foreign ministry spokesman said. “Continued violence of this sort could be a setback to the peace process.”

Article extracted from this publication >>  September 6, 1985