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Kadirgamar said aircraft in LTTE hands could become tools of suicide terrorism

By Walter Jayawardhana


The assassinated Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Luxman Kadirgamar when he met Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Advisor J. H. Crouch voiced his concern that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) might use aircraft for suicide terrorism said the Sri Lankan envoy in Washington DC in a press briefing issued on the aerial attack on theKatunayaka Air Force base.

The Sri Lankan ambassador Bernard Goonetileke said, “When the late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar paid his last visit to the US in June 2005, the LTTE’s construction of an air field and its acquisition of air capability were discussed as matters of serious concern with Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Advisor, Dr. J.H. Crouch.Mr. Kadirgamar voiced concern that given the LTTE’s past record, there was a real possibility of aircrafts being used for suicide operations.”

Bernard Goonetileke said according to Kadirgamar, the threat of the terrorists obtaining air power justified Sri Lanka’s attempt to strengthen its air defense.“The Minister said,” the ambassador pointed out, “that this development was forcing Sri Lanka to strengthen its air defense capability. He explained how air capability in the hands of a terrorist organization could become a potential threat to civil aviation and to the commercial shipping activity and urged the international community to persuade the LTTE to dismantle its air capability in a verifiable manner.”

The ambassador said the attack came following a series of defeats suffered by the terrorist group. “This attack came in the aftermath of major defeats suffered by Tamil Tigers in the east at the hands of the security forces and devastating losses within three weeks, of three ships that were sunk by the Sri Lanka Navy along with arms and ammunition and other military hardware they were carrying for the Tamil Tigers. Although the attack failed to achieve its objective of destroying aircraft at the base, three Air Force personnel died and 16 others suffered injuries.”

The ambassador was also obviously trying to damage control by the negligence of the state media authorities by remaining silent for more than six hours without issuing a communiqué explaining the situation creating doubts in the minds of the foreigners clearly resulting adverse effects for the country and creating room for unhealthy speculations against the country. He said, “Following the attack, the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), which is in the vicinity of the air base, was closed for approximately two hours, purely as a precautionary measure, and flights were diverted to Thiruvandapuram, to Chennai and to Male. The Sri Lanka Tourist Board rose to the occasion to ensure that inbound and outbound tourists were provided maximum possible assistance, resulting in minimum inconvenience to them.The BIA is currently fully operational and all incoming and outgoing flights are on schedule.”

Goonetileke who was working as the head of the Peace Secretariat before becoming the ambassador in Washington reminded that the LTTE’s capability of air power was built in clear violation of the Ceasefire Agreement they signed. He said, “ It is most appropriate to note the warning of the Head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), Mr. Hagrup Haukland, in May 2005, when he said that the Tamil Tiger “air assets” threatened Sri Lanka’s domestic security and violated international laws. “It is a tricky one and a serious violation. It threatens not only domestic security, but India has also expressed concern,” Mr. Haukland said at the time. He also said that he had seen the LTTE airstrip in Kilinochchi from a helicopter on March 4, 2004 — a day after the rebellion by the LTTE’s former eastern regional commander, V. Muralitharanalso known as “Col. Karuna.” He added that the LTTE had “denied access” to the SLMM to inspect the airstrip, which he termed as “a ceasefire violation.”

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March 27, 2007 - Posted by | International News

1 Comment »

  1. *sigh*, the day Mr. Luxman Kadiragam was killed was probably the day we lost perhaps one of the greatest political minds in the country. At least as respect to the passed away, the UNP’s claims that he died at his “mistresses” house is just unbeleivable. It is kind of obvious that the LTTE felt threatened by him :/ .
    This just proves that the “LTTE” is not an organisation that wants freedom for their own people….

    Comment by onca | March 27, 2007 | Reply

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