29th April 2001

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London bobbies get ready for roar of Liberation Tigers

From Neville de Silva in London

Will some of the terrorist groups banned by the British government last month try to create violence under cover of Tuesday's May Day demonstrations when several anarchist and protest groups are due to take to the streets of Central London?

This is one issue considered by Britain's top internal security organisations in contingency planning for a violent May Day expected to be even worse than last year.

Among the 21 groups banned under the Terrorism Act 2000 are the LTTE and several Muslim organisations, which have been angered by the Labour Government's action.

Home Secretary Jack Straw said at the time he named the organisations that the government did so not for foreign policy reasons but for concerns of the security services.

Even before the ban was officially announced some groups such as the LTTE said it would really turn terrorists if they were not permitted to operate in the Britain.

It is understood that some LTTE supporters, bitter that their money-making and propaganda activities had been hurt by the ban, had explored how they could strike back at the British government either in the UK or elsewhere.

Plans by anarchists and other protest groups to make this year's May Day a major anti-capitalist demonstration code-named May Day Monopoly had been seen by some as a possible opportunity to join in creating violence.

Security authorities had also not dismissed the possibility of terrorist groups acting under cover after the Real IRA, a breakaway group of the IRA opposed to peace talks, planted bombs in London this month though those were concerned with past events.

The thinking is that anarchist groups from UK and the continent who have been invited would be blamed for any violence while the terrorist organisations get away with their actions.

Unlike in Canada and some European capitals, the LTTE in the UK has not engaged in violence except three years ago when two groups, including Tigers were involved in a shooting incident injuring one person.

So whether they would keep a low profile or try to exploit this opportunity remains a matter of speculation. Over 15,000 people are expected to participate in the demonstrations which will culminate with the groups converging on fashionable Oxford Street in late afternoon for what they call the "Sale of the Century".

It is not certain what this entails but the police expect a possible attack on the shops along Oxford Street and the surrounding streets symbolising an attack on capitalist consumerism.

Police leave for three days has been cancelled and the Metropolitan Police is being strengthened with policemen drawn from elsewhere.

It is expected that 5000 policemen and women would be on duty on Tuesday to contain what many believe is a well organised demonstration.

Armed police are also being deployed as security high ups fear that weapons including machetes and Samurai swords will be brought by demonstrators.

Tamil sources here do not think that hard core Tigers will take the risk of trying to unleash violence of their own however angry they are with the Labour government.

But other Tamil sources close to the LTTE said the Tigers are doubly angry that the British administration did not pressure Colombo sufficiently to speed up the peace process which has led to a resumption of fighting in the north.

"The LTTE may be wary of creating any mischief in London on Tuesday. But then it takes only one or two hardliners to act on their own".

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