A Marxist group of Tamil militants with connections to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and Cuba is reportedly preparing to mount a new insurgency in Sri Lanka six months after the government declared an end to the 26-year-old civil war
According to a report in The Times, The People's Liberation Army was founded in eastern Sri Lanka four months ago and has vowed to launch attacks against government and military targets unless its demands for a separate Tamil homeland are met. "This war isn't over yet," Commander Kones, head of the PLA's Eastern District military command, told The Times during a night meeting in a safe house in the east of the country last week.
"There has been no solution for Tamils since the destruction of the LTTE [Tamil Tigers] in May. So we have built and organised the PLA and are ready to act soon. Our aim is a democratic socialist liberation of the northeast for a Tamil Eelam,"Kones said.
Kones claimed that the PLA had 300 active members and expected to recruit 5,000 volunteers from the 280,000 Tamil civilians recently freed from detention camps. He said that the PLA, commanded by a ten-man committee, was an entirely separate organisation from the LTTE, but said that former LTTE cadres would be able to join the organisation provided that they swore their allegiance to the PLA's political aims.
Although the PLA's capabilities remain unclear, it includes in its ranks several experienced insurgents who fought against the government forces in Sri Lanka in the 1980s before falling foul of the LTTE and either leaving the country or becoming dormant.The threat of an aspiring new Tamil insurgent group comes at a complicated time for the Sri Lankan authorities.
The unified image that accompanied their decisive victory over the Tamil Tigers in May has been eroded. The architect of that victory, General Sarath Fonseka, has become embroiled in a political scrap with the incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa as both men vie for a presidential election victory next month.
Their rivalry could split the vote of the Sinhalese majority, offering the swing vote to the country's Tamil minority, who have yet to declare their political allegiance. A new round of violence during this period could have a dramatic reversal on efforts to stabilise the country.