Sri Lanka says independence celebrations on despite Tiger threat

Jan 20, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka will hold large-scale civilian and military independence day celebrations in the capital next month despite fears of Tamil rebel attacks, officials said Sunday.

Security will be increased further ahead of the 60th Freedom Day on February 4, with 4,100 extra security personnel bolstering thousands of police and soldiers deployed in and around Colombo, public administration minister Karu Jayasuriya said.

“Cultural and sporting events will also be held in addition to the main event in Colombo,” Jayasuriya said, adding that armed forces will provide major security support.

The extra security follows the collapse of a moribund 2002 truce between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) this month and a surge in fighting in northern areas of the country where the guerillas run a defacto state.

“We are taking maximum precautionary measures against any attack,” said a police official in the capital, who declined to be named.

The main celebration takes place along the Galle Face promenade and access to the area, which is normally busy with walkers, was severely restricted on Sunday.

Fighting between troops near the LTTE