says truce holds, warns LTTE
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has declared that the
ceasefire is still in place and his Government respected it but
warned Tiger guerrillas his patience should not be misconstrued
as weakness. He warned that if the LTTE insists on continuing its
attacks, he would have to defend the country.
His comments, in the wake of Thursday’s
Sea Tiger attack on a Navy flotilla, came in an exclusive interview
with The Sunday Times.
Accusing the LTTE of violating the ceasefire on
a number of occasions, President Rajapaksa admitted the security
forces too had been blamed for a lesser number of violations. “Can
any of these be compared with the attack on the Army Commander,
the attack on a naval convoy on Thursday or the killing of then
Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar?” he asked.
President Rajapaksa said the people have given
him a solemn mandate to protect the sovereignty and territorial
integrity of Sri Lanka. “I have to and I will continue to
defend my people whether they are living in the south, north, east
or west,” he said.
Pointing out that he would not waver in his commitment
to the people from all parts of the nation, Mr. Rajapaksa said honourable
peace could not be achieved easily. He said for the sake of the
country people would have to bear some hardships.
President Rajapaksa’s remarks came as defence
and security authorities examined tougher measures to strengthen
security countrywide in the wake of LTTE attacks. Though two of
their major offensives—an attempt to kill Army Commander Lt.
Gen. Sarath Fonseka and attack a passenger ferry carrying more than
710 Army, Navy, Police and Air Force personnel—failed, state
intelligence agencies have reported that the guerillas are poised
to continue their campaign of escalated violence.
President Rajapaksa defended the Air Force attacks
in the Trincomalee district. “We carried out a limited operation
in Sampur. That came after the LTTE attacked the Army Headquarters
on April 25 and attempted to assassinate our Army Commander and
the simultaneous attack on the Navy in Trincomalee. I have to make
sure such dastardly attacks are not repeated.”
President Rajapaksa said “I have the fullest confidence in
the capability of our armed forces and the police. But that does
not mean we do not accept the ceasefire.”