EU puts Sri Lanka’s Tamil rebels on terror list

BRUSSELS, May 30, 2006 (AFP) – The European Union put Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers on its list of terrorist groups on Monday, despite a warning from the rebels that the move could force them back to war. The EU ban, agreed in principle on May 18, was made official at a meeting of ministers from the 25-member bloc to discuss competition issues.

It will deprive the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of some of the vital funds they collect from members of the Tamil diaspora in Europe.

As well as freezing rebel funds, the move, which came at the urging of the United States and the Sri Lankan government, also provides for special EU cooperation measures to combat the group.

The separatist ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka has claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1972.

More than 200 people died last month despite a four-year truce between government forces and the rebels, brokered by Norway.

Sri Lanka had hoped a ban would force the rebels to the negotiating table, and the EU move comes just as the rebels have accepted an invitation to take part in talks in Norway next month.

An EU diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the LTTE had brought the ban on itself.

“If they ha