Tigers scoff Sri Lanka aid offer as political gimmick

COLOMBO, Nov 20, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels Monday scoffed a government offer to send supplies to the besieged Jaffna peninsula as a “political gimmick” aimed at appeasing the international community.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said they had no formal word from the government about its offer to send essential food and medicine to Jaffna through rebel-held territory.

“We have checked with the SLMM (Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission) and there is no official offer from the government except a statement to the media,” LTTE military spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiriyan told AFP.

“We cannot react to this political gimmick aimed at the meeting of aid donors today in Washington,” he said, referring to a review of Sri Lanka’s faltering peace process by the US, European Union, Japan and Norway Monday.

The office of President Mahinda Rajapakse said on Sunday night that he had ordered the opening of the highway to Jaffna amid local and international concern for half a million civilians trapped there.

A government spokesman said a formal request was offered to relief agencies to support a food convoy by road to the Jaffna peninsula, virtually cut off since fighting erupted in mid-August. <