LTTE could regroup, warns Sri Lankan minister

TerrorismSri Lanka’s new government today warned that there is a real danger that the LTTE could regroup and wage another war for an independent Tamil homeland, six years after they were militarily defeated.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith Perera said LTTE’s front organisations operate businesses overseas to generate funds in an attempt to revive the outfit.

“Their front organisations operate businesses abroad, they run petrol stations, supermarkets and have shipping companies,” Perera said.

“Even though they have been defeated on the ground, there is a real danger of their trying to regroup,” he said.

His comments came after the Sri Lankan government pushed the European Union to again blacklist the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Perera said the EU last week agreed to maintain the ban on the LTTE, despite an earlier European court decision to lift some sanctions.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was instrumental in convincing the then Sri Lankan government to ensure that the LTTE remained a banned outfit, he said.

“The European Union took the action following a request from our Prime Minister (Wickremesinghe) in November (when he was the leader of the opposition),” he said.

In October last year, the EU on procedural grounds had lifted the ban on the LTTE allowing the Sri Lankan government to make fresh submissions on it.

Perera termed the continuation of the ban a heavy blow against attempts of certain top leaders of the previous regime to acquire the wealth amassed in the EU by the outfit.

“The government had to make submissions to convince and enlighten the European General Council on the threats that the LTTE has imposed to both world peace as well as in Sri Lanka due to the revoke of the ban,” he said.

President Maithripala Sirisena, who was elected after he defeated his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa in January, has taken steps towards reconciliation with the ethnic minority.

He has pledged to investigate alleged war crimes committed during the nearly three deacdes of conflict.

Sri Lanka has previously accused the LTTE of generating money abroad through extortion to finance their campaign for an independent homeland in the island’s northeast. In 2009, government forces defeated the Tamil rebels in a military campaign, sparking allegations that up to 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed.(PTI)

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