Sri Lanka: Refugee Diplomacy

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March 2, 2007: Army troops in the northern port of Trincomalee, which has been surrounded by LTTE forces for years, are breaking the siege. Soldiers have captured over a dozen LTTE bases outside the city, and driven back LTTE troops. At sea, several days of battles with LTTE smuggling ships has left the rebels without the needed supplies. The air force is getting better at finding LTTE artillery positions, and destroying them with bombs. The army is seeing more LTTE fighters sneaking away from their units and surrendering.

March 1, 2007: Sri Lanka found a way to gain Australian support, and a ban on the LTTE. This was accomplished by Sri Lankan officials openly asking for the return of Sri Lankans who were caught trying to enter Australia illegally, claiming to be political refugees. The Sri Lankan government pointed out the obvious, that the refugees could have gone to India much more easily, but instead raised thousands of dollars to hire people smugglers to get them into Australia. Normally, nations these economic refugees are coming from don't like to publicly discuss the economic angle. But Australia appreciated the assist, and the LTTE operations in Australia (which often verge on extortion, or worse) are now in danger. One of the rackets was people smuggling, as the LTTE is apparently involved in taking up to $10,000 per person to smuggle Tamil Sri Lankans into Australia.

February 28, 2007: An LTTE cargo ship, carrying over 10,000 artillery and mortar shells, was sunk by the navy, off the north coast. Elsewhere in the area, two smaller LTTE ships were sunk.

February 27, 2007: LTTE artillery shells fell on a group of foreign diplomats visiting recently captured LTTE areas in eastern Sri Lanka. The Italian ambassador was wounded, as were ten other people. The UN condemned the attack, and the LTTE lost more ground on the diplomatic front. The attack may have been an accident, but the damage to the LTTE is done either way.

February 26, 2007: LTTE supplies from southern India are being intercepted more frequently by the navy, and stopped at the source more often by Indian police and coast guard. This has led to an LTTE threat to resume assassination attacks (using suicide bombers) against Indian officials. In the last two decades, such attacks have killed many senior Indian leaders, including one prime minister. India apparently believes the LTTE is on the way out, because the assassination threats are being ignored.

February 25, 2007: Three LTTE bases in the northeast have been captured, as the LTTE forces showed continued weakness from lack of supplies, and declining morale.

 

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