Sri Lanka general urges political solution to Tamil strife

June 11, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s army chief on Friday called for a political settlement to the island’s decades-long ethnic strife, a year after the Tamil Tiger rebels were defeated in a major military offensive. Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya warned that although the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were crushed following the offensive in May last year, rebel remnants could try to regroup.

“It is up to the government and the people now to find the root cause of the problem and give a proper solution,” Jayasuriya told a meeting of businessmen in Colombo.

Jayasuriya took over as army chief in July, shortly after security forces killed the top leadership of the Tigers and ended their struggle for independence for the island’s minority Tamil community.

“I believe, in the end, a proper solution is needed. The LTTE have been eradicated militarily. But there are some elements here and overseas still trying to propagating Tamil (Tiger) cause,” he said.

The United Nations estimated some 7,000 Tamil civilians perished in the final months of fighting which brought an end to Asia’s longest-running guerrilla war. The conflict had claimed up to 100,000 lives since 1972.