Da The Times of India del 11/10/2006
Originale su http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/2145867.cms

Lanka launches 'large-scale' offensive: Tigers

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka launched a "large-scale offensive" against Tamil Tigers in the northern peninsula of Jaffna on Wednesday, a day after the two sides agreed to resume peace talks, the rebels said.

"Intense clashes are going on," the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said in a statement sent from their political headquarters in the northern town of Kilinochchi.

The guerrillas said the military had mounted a three-pronged attack against them along the de facto front line in the Jaffna peninsula.

"The attacks come hot on the heels of repeated warnings by LTTE political head, SP Thamilselvan, to the Norwegian facilitators and the international community to ensure that such large scale attacks are halted in view of the proposed direct talks," the LTTE said.

The statement came a day after the guerrillas told Norwegian ambassador Hans Brattskar that they were willing to resume peace talks later this month in Switzerland and end an eight-month deadlock in the process.

The guerrillas at the weekend warned that the military was preparing to mount a fresh onslaught and repeatedly warned that any incursion into territory held by them would mean the end of the peace process.

There was no immediate reaction from the military to the LTTE's latest statement on the Jaffna fighting. It came as Norway on Wednesday asked the government and Tamil Tiger rebels to cease hostilities ahead of entering talks.

Norway's top peace broker Erik Solheim welcomed the agreement between the Sri Lankan administration and the LTTE on Tuesday to hold two days of talks starting October 28 in Switzerland.

Solheim, who is also Oslo's international development minister, said in a statement sent here that the willingness expressed by the two warring parties was "most welcome".

"It is crucial that the government and the LTTE now use this opportunity to cease hostilities," Solheim said. "They are taking a small but important step towards continuing the peace process although the situation on the ground remains difficult."

On Tuesday, the Tigers told Norway's Brattskar that they were ready to resume peace negotiations with the government but would reconsider if security forces kept up attacks against them.

"We are ready for talks, and agreed to the venue and date," the LTTE's political wing chief SP Thamilselvan said in a statement posted on their official website.

"However, if the military aggression continues, we will be forced to reconsider the decision," he later told the pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website.

Even as peace moves were underway, the government and Tamil Tigers have kept up attacks against each other in the island's embattled north and east.

Norway has been working to save a tattered 2002 truce and end a spiral of violence which has claimed more than 1,500 lives since December.

Some 60,000 people have been killed in the separatist conflict since 1972.

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