Sri Lanka: France and India Turn on Rebels

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April 16, 2007: India is using the recent crackdown on LTTE operations in south India to also suppress the ancient smuggling operations. The smugglers have bribed or intimidated local officials into leaving them alone. In the past decade, a lot of the muscle for those threats has come from the LTTE. But now the LTTE's reputation is in tatters, as years of terrorist tactics have caught up with it. Public opinion in southern India, the homeland of Sri Lankas Tamil minority, still supports Sri Lankan Tamils, but is less enthusiastic about the LTTE. So the local and national government in south India is coming down hard on the LTTE and the smugglers. Well, as hard as they can manage in what is a political minefield.

April 15, 2007: A recent opinion survey indicates that about 60 percent of the majority (two-thirds of the population) Sinhalese want a military, not negotiated, solution to the Tamil demands for independence. The Sinhalese run the government. Peace talks brokered by Norway, led to a ceasefire in 2002. But the LTTE insisted on a separate state, and the Sinhalese refused to partition their island. Fighting resumed over the last year, and this time the LTTE is losing. As a result of this, the LTTE is threatening "retribution" (probably more suicide bombings).

April 14, 2007: French police continue their crackdown on LTTE fund raising operations, with the arrest of several dozen LTTE members. Seized documents and computers have provided details of similar LTTE operations in Britain and North America. LTTE fund raising relies a lot of extortion and threats of violence.

April 13, 2007: There are nearly 300,000 refugees from the fighting, and about half of them fled their homes in the last few weeks. Most refugees are from the east, where years of LTTE rule has been smashed. There, the LTTE only controls about 140 square kilometers of jungle outside the city of Batticaloa. But more refugees are also coming from the north, where the LTTE is terrorizing non-Tamils in anticipation of a government offensive. April 12, 2007: With the fighting creating several hundred casualties a week, and lots of media coverage, the tourist industry is taking a beating. Business is down about twenty percent compared to last year. Few tourist destinations have been involved in the LTTE related violence, but the lurid headlines have an impact. The economy in general is expected to stall this year because of the renewed war, reducing tax revenues and forcing the government deeper into debt.

April 11, 2007: Violence against non-Tamil in the north, is increasing. The LTTE wants to drive out any civilians that they don't trust. That includes just about all non-Tamils, especially Sinhalese (native Sri Lankans). The fighting in the north is becoming intense, with infantry raids in addition to the usual shelling with artillery and mortars.

April 10, 2007: Indian police are now acting more energetically on Sri Lankan requests, to arrest LTTE members hiding out in southern India (mainly Tamil Nadu state), are being acted on. Three LTTE members were arrested in a refugee camp. The LTTE, especially those running the smuggling operation, often operate from refugee camps. Here, Tamils who have fled the fighting in Sri Lanka, often languish for years.

 

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