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December 2001 issue of
World Press Review
(VOL. 48, No. 12)
Press Review Update
Sri Lanka has
the worlds most wanted man, Osama bin Laden, to thank
for the recent U.S., British, and Canadian ban on the Liberation
Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE), the terrorist outfit that has
been waging a separatist war on the island for more than 18
years. Before Sept. 11, the LTTE was often seen as a national
liberation movement engaged in a battle for a separate Tamil
state. It is only now, after the brutal attacks in the United
States, that the LTTE joins the ranks of terrorist organizations
whose assets are targeted for freezes.
With parliamentary elections slated for Dec. 5, fears of another
LTTE attack are high. The rebel Tigers are said to be unloading
equipment and arms on the northern and eastern beaches, preparing
for a major assault against the Sinhalese majority in Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, according to Colombo's Sunday Times, police
have reported approximately 500 cases of election violence in
the lead-up to polling day, including the Oct. 29 bomb blast
outside of Colombo that was apparently targeting Prime Minister
Ratnasiri Wickremanayake. Three people were killed in the attack.
The paper chastised the mainstream political players who
seem to be convinced [of] invincibility despite the LTTEs
repeated assaults (Nov. 4). It went on to say, [Theyre]
like the cat that had nine lives.
Is the Dec. 5 election to be decided by the ballot or
by bullets? From reports of violence received from most parts
of the country, it appears that this frenzy of violence is escalating,
a Nov. 12 editorial in Colombo's The Island opined. In
December 1999, the LTTE attempted to assassinate President Chandrika
Kumarantunga on the final day of the presidential campaign.
She escapedbut lost an eye.
The besieged state has at least been making some headway recently
in its bloody struggle against the Tamil rebels. Continuing
investigations into this summers bombing of Colombos
Katunayake air base and Bandaranaike International Airport (July
24)considered the worst terrorist tactic unleashed by
the LTTE yethave unraveled the inner workings of the Tiger
guerrilla network in the Negombo area, the center from which
many recent attacks have been carried out. According to reports,
while the findings of the Criminal Investigation Department
have been kept strictly confidential, Deputy Inspector General
Punya de Silva revealed at a recent conference that a major
breakthrough was expected in the coming days and weeks.