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5000 LTTE have surrendered, claims Lankan government

By T V Sriram in Colombo
May 25, 2009 15:24 IST
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Asserting that the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam has been "totally destroyed", Sri Lanka has said that Tamil Tigers or other terrorist outfits will not be allowed to take roots in the country again. Disclosing that more than 5,000 LTTE cadres had surrendered before the gvernment, Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa made it clear that criminal elements among the surrendered Tiger cadres would be brought to book while others will be rehabilitated.

"More than five thousand LTTE cadres have surrendered to the security forces and the criminals among them will be dealt with the prevailing laws and the rest will be rehabilitated," he said. "The LTTE has been totally destroyed by the security forces and there is no way the LTTE can revive in the country," Rajapaksa said. He said several human rights organisations employed in Sri Lanka in the recent past were keen on saving the LTTE leaders and not the displaced civilians. "Hence the government identified their real objectives and acted accordingly," he told a Sinhala language TV channel Derana. Rajapaksa said that the government will never "disturb media freedom" in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, a special meeting is being convened soon to discuss plans for holding elections in the Northern Province. The government hopes to conduct elections for 32 local bodies including Jaffna Municipal Council soon, official sources said. Rajapaksa also called on the international community and the United Nations to assist in arresting the LTTE arms procurer K Pathmanathan. On reports about taking him to an to an international war crime tribunal, he said: "Anyway I am not afraid of such propaganda created by pro-LTTE elements." Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama in the presence of UN Chief Ban Ki-moon on Saturday, brushed off certain internationally originated calls for a probe against Sri Lanka over possible involvement in 'war crimes', the state run Daily News reported.

Bogollagama said such a question does not arise as the Sri Lankan military was not responsible for any such abuse. The Minister also noted that such a call was not justified in the context of the Sri Lankan scenario and that what prevailed in the north was a hostage situation. He said as a sovereign country Sri Lanka has every right to take necessary steps to rescue a section of its citizens held captive by a "terrorist" organisation.

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T V Sriram in Colombo