Tamil Tigers dismiss calls to end navy operations

From left: Dr. Fernando Im, Senior Country Economist for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, The World Bank, Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, Dr. W A Wijewardana, Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Prof. Indralal de Silva, Former (Chair) of Demography, University of Colombo, Prof. Amala de Silva, Department of Economics, University of Colombo at the panel discussion on "Demographic Change in Sri Lanka" moderated by Dr. Ramani Gunatilaka, International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

COLOMBO, May 14, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers dismissed calls by Scandinavian truce monitors to stop rebel navy missions and have threatened “war” to keep their men at sea, officials said Sunday. The LTTE’s naval wing chief, Colonel Soosai, said on the pro-rebel Tamilnet website said that the LTTE were “not prepared to relinquish sovereign rights to the seas which we have won with the sacrifice of our people.”

“We move with complete freedom in these waters to transport our cadres and to distribute material needed by our movement,” Soosai, who uses one name, said.

“We will not hesitate to wage war with anyone who attempts to prevent us from exercising our freedom.”

The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) said in a statement that it was “reviewing” its own practice of putting monitors on government vessels following a major sea battle Thursday between the Sri Lankan navy and the Tamil Tiger rebels off the northern Peninsula of Jaffna.

The Sri Lankan navy said the SLMM naval monitors had not boarded their craft since Thursday’s sea battle, but the navy is continuing its patrols off the island’s troubled northern and eastern regions.

“We have in fact stepped up our operations,” na