Sri Lanka army chief seeks talks with Tigers amid blasts

Sri Lanka’s new army chief took command Tuesday with a call for talks with Tamil Tiger rebels to defuse tension in the northern town of Jaffna after 14 soldiers were killed in two blasts. Sri Lanka’s new army chief took command Tuesday with a call for talks with Tamil Tiger rebels to defuse tension in the northern town of Jaffna after 14 soldiers were killed in two blasts. Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka said he wanted to re-establish communication links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to prevent attacks against government forces.

Fonseka’s maiden press conference after assuming command of the country’s 120,000-strong army was delayed for nearly half an hour after suspected Tiger rebels blew up an army tractor, killing seven security personnel.

He played down Tuesday’s blast, the second since Sunday when another seven soldiers perished in an identical attack, and sounded a conciliatory line in sharp contrast to his military reputation as a hawk.

“There has been a communication gap between us and the LTTE,” Fonseka said. “The LTTE has said they did not carry out the attacks. We don’t have 100 percent evidence, but we think they did it.

“If they did