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check Govt., UNP & LTT - 09-04-2006, 05:40 PM

The Island 4th September 2006.

If this news report is accurate ( see highlighted part), those who make it a hobby of ridiculing & castigating Ranil Wickramasinghe, cannot be found fault with....

Battle for Sampur
Govt., UNP consensus unlikely
by Shamindra Ferdinando
A consensus between the ruling coalition and the UNP is implausible in view of their diametrically opposing views on the threat posed by the LTTE.
The UNP disagrees with the decision to assault the LTTE bases in Trincomalee south in an effort to neutralize, what a senior navy official termed as, the growing threat on the navy base. This was first brought to their (UNP) notice on April 24, 2003. The warning given against the backdrop of the LTTE quitting the peace process was largely ignored by the UNP. Although President Chandrika Kumaratunga brought three portfolios including Defence under her purview on the basis of deteriorating security situation, no tangible action was taken to neutralize the threat.
The UNP feels that the ongoing military action would jeopardize Oslo-led efforts to bring Tigers back to the negotiating table. The Island learns that the top UNP leadership believes that the government would have to give up the area it seized from the LTTE to facilitate the peace process.
Over 100 LTTE cadres and about 20 soldiers died in action since August 27 for control of villagers in Trincomalee south. Army headquarters acknowledged that about 100 officers and men suffered injuries during the week-long assault backed by air and artillery strikes on identified targets.
The government wants to bring approximately 180 square kms (in Trincomalee south) under its control and set up permanent bases to prevent the LTTE from bringing in its big guns. Once the operation is completed, the navy is expected to take the lead role in holding onto the recent gains.
President Mahinda Rajapakse Thursday explained his decision to send in troops to prevent further artillery and mortar attacks on the navy base, thereby denying the Jaffna forces a regular supply of arms, ammunition, equipment and other supplies. Rajapakse is believed to have emphasized the pivotal importance in maintaining the sea line of communication, particularly against the backdrop of artillery attacks on the strategic Palaly airbase.
Presidential advisor Basil Rajapakse echoed the President when he met senior Indian officials last week. UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe followed Basil Rajapakse to India to discuss the situation. Wickremesinghe’s visit is his second to India in the part few months.
A senior military official speaking on condition of anonymity said that an offensive to neutralize the threat on the navy base could not have been put off after the August 11 attack on Jaffna. They put Palaly airbase out of action for several days, he said. They believed that they were capable of pushing the army across Kilaly-Muhamalai-Eluthumaduwal-Nagarkovil frontline, he said. If they succeeded, they would not have budged an inch from their new territorial gains, another officer said. The LTTE would have offered to talk with the government from a position of strength. But the week-long battle ended with attackers losing several hundred cadres killed and wounded.
The government wants the international community to pressure the LTTE to return to the negotiating table without further delay.
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