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Military ops not directed against Tamils: Lanka

T V Sriram in Colombo | October 08, 2008 13:44 IST

Apparently concerned over the criticism by New Delhi [Images] and major political parties in Tamil Nadu of its ongoing operations against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Sri Lanka [Images] has said that marginalisation of Tiger rebels should not be seen as a drive against Tamils.

Asserting that Lankan military operations in Tamil-dominated northern areas were aimed at liberating the region from 'fascist and dictatorial control of LTTE [Images] terrorists' Colombo asked India not to be influenced by the 'malicious propaganda' of Tiger sympathisers.

Reacting to Indian National Security M K Narayanan's expression of concern on the situation in Sri Lanka, the island nation's Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told

Parliament on Tuesday evening that the onus was on international community to support Colombo by taking concrete and tangible measures to "combat terrorism".

"Hon Members may also be aware of reports of the National Security Adviser of India, M K Narayanan expressing concern on the situation in Sri Lanka. In this regard I wish to reiterate Sri Lanka's policy of maintaining a close dialogue with India, with whom we have a time tested relationship based on mutual goodwill and trust," he said in a suo-motu statement.

India had earlier this week expressed 'grave concern and unhappiness' at the growing casualties of unarmed Tamil civilians in the military offensive in Sri Lanka and had asked the government to 'act with greater restraint'.

National Security Adviser M K Narayanan summoned Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner G G A D Palithaganegoda to convey India's concerns to him.

Bogollagama also said the Tiger rebels were now confined to their last strongholds in parts of the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts in Northern Sri Lanka.

"Critics of Sri Lanka and sympathisers of the LTTE are attempting to portray a misleading and totally false notion that the government is opting for a military solution to address the problems of the minorities. It is unfortunate that some of our friends too have been influenced by this malicious propaganda," he said.

He said Sri Lanka appreciated significant steps taken by its 'friends' who have proscribed the LTTE and helped in interdicting supply of arms and ammunition to 'terrorists'.

He, however, said that 'much more needs to be done to pursue front organisations of the LTTE, posing off as charities and humanitarian aid organisations, which openly engage in raising funds for the LTTE war chest.'

"LTTE does not represent the Tamil community. Therefore, military action against the LTTE should never be perceived as action against our brethren, the Tamil community," Bogollagama told Parliament.

The minister said in recent months, the government found it necessary to relocate the hub for humanitarian operations from Kilinochchi to Vavuniya with a view to better supplying the civilians and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from a secure location.

The government has obtained concurrence of UN agencies and international humanitarian organisations and a new humanitarian hub has been established in Vavuniya, he said.

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