Sri Lanka: Government ends ceasefire with Tamil Tiger rebels

Colombo, 3 Jan. (AKI/DAWN) - The Sri Lankan government unanimously decided on Wednesday evening to formally withdraw from the ceasefire with the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, which has existed only on paper over the past two years, government defence spokesperson Minister Keheliye Rambukwella told the Pakistani daily Dawn.

The decision came after yet another bomb blast went off in the capital, Colombo on Wednesday killing five and injuring over 28 (photo). The government blamed the Tamil Tigers for the blast but a spokesperson for the group denied any responsibility.

Rambukwella said Sri Lanka's prime minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake had proposed that the cabinet annul the truce and that all the ministers had agreed without argument.

The ceasefire agreement was signed in February 2002 under the initiation of Ranil Wickremesinghe soon after he was elected as prime minister under the United National Party regime.

The Norwegian brokered cease-fire had largely collapsed since the resurgence of fighting in Sri Lanka's civil war two years ago.

Over the past two years, more than 5,700 people have been killed in Sri Lanka in fighting between the separatist rebels and the Sri Lankan military.

At least 70,000 people have died since the war began in 1983, with the the Tamil Tiger rebels fighting for autonomy for minority Tamils in the north and east of the country.


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