NEW DELHI, June 28, 2006 (AFP) – A Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger rebel leader expressed regret Tuesday over the 1991 assassination of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, in an interview aired on Indian television. “I would say it is a great tragedy, a monumental historical tragedy for which we deeply regret and we call upon the government of India and people of India to be magnanimous, to put the past behind (them)…,” Anton Balasingham, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) chief negotiator, told private NDTV station.
Gandhi was killed when a woman detonated explosives strapped to her body in the southern Indian town of Sriperempudur in 1991 while he was campaigning in the runup to general elections.
India blamed the LTTE but the Tamil Tigers denied their involvement in the attack, which also killed 14 others.
As premier, Gandhi was responsible for sending Indian peacekeepers to Sri Lanka in 1987 following an agreement with Colombo to help the military stabilise the country.
Some 1,200 Indian troops were killed in subsequent fighting with Tamil Tiger rebels, forcing India’s pullout in 1990.
Balasingham Tuesday urged India to help resolve the bloody ethnic conflict between the LTTE and the Sri