Tigers slams monitors after sea battle, Sri Lanka looks for bodies

May 12, 2006 (AFP) – Tamil Tiger Friday rejected a ceasefire ruling against them and demanded “sovereign rights” as Sri Lanka’s military hunted for the bodies of 18 people killed in a major sea battle. The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) insisted they will operate naval and air wings and slammed Scandinavian ceasefire monitors for ruling against their launching of an offensive against the Sri Lankan navy Thursday.

“We entered the peace process based on a status-quo achieved in the battlefield in our territory,” the head of the LTTE political wing S. P. Thamilselvan told truce monitors at the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi.

“Nobody has the right to pass judgement on the sovereign rights of our access to the adjacent sea and airspace of our homeland,” the rebels said in remarks posted in the pro-rebel tamilnet.com website.

The Tiger suicide attack on a navy gunboat Thursday that killed its 18-man crew punched another hole in the tenuous ceasefire and placed the 60-member Scandanavian monitors on a collision course with the guerrillas.

“An operation is underway to recover the bodies of the 18 men,” a navy spokesman said, adding divers had recovered one body.

The island wa