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LTTE admits facing a 'split'
March 04, 2004 22:10 IST
Sri Lanka's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on Thursday said they were facing a crisis within their leadership after a reported 'split' as peace broker Norway moved to salvage the fragile ceasefire.
The LTTE's political wing leader S P Thamilselvan went in for emergency talks with the Norwegian truce monitoring chief Trond Furuhovde at the northern rebel-held town of Kilinochchi.
"Thamilselvan said that the current crisis is only a temporary one and a resolution will be reached very soon," the secretariat said in a statement after talks with Furhove.
Despite the unprecedented crisis within the LTTE, the town of Batticaloa and the rest of island's rebel-controlled regions remain calm, government officials said.
President Chndrika Kumaratunga's party reacted cautiously to the power struggle within the LTTE saying they believed it was not serious. "As far as we are concerned these are rumblings and rumblings only," spokesman for Kumaratunga's party Mangala Samaraweera said. "We sincerely hope the peace process will continue."
Yesterday saw the first major public airing of differences in the usually highly disciplined Tigers, involving the outfit's eastern commander V. Muralitharan -- better known as Karuna.
The Ranil Wickremesinghe government also declined to comment on the crisis amid reports that Karuna was moving to act more independently.
"There is a problem, but we have no reason to believe that the continuation of the ceasefire agreement is in doubt," government spokesman G L Peiris said. "It is not useful to comment on this matter."
The pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website denied there was a 'major split' in the LTTE led by the 49-year-old Prabhakaran, who is based in the north of the island.
"We will be functioning directly under the command of our leader," Tamilnet quoted a spokesman of Karuna as saying. "There was no split in the LTTE."
However, diplomatic sources said Karuna, who is also a member of the Tigers' peace negotiating team, had informed Norway through his aide that he should be treated as a separate entity, signalling his dissent.
Karuna had also asked the government military to help him bring back forces loyal to him from the north of the country, a military official said.
Local rebel sources said Karuna had been unhappy about two killings Monday in his area apparently carried on the orders of the LTTE's intelligence chief Pottu Amman.
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