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* US Country Reports on Terrorism says Tamil Diaspora financed Sri Lanka's rebels
Friday, May 1, 2009, 6:11 GMT, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

May 01, Colombo: Sri Lanka's rebel outfit Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) financed itself with contributions from the Tamil Diaspora in North America, Europe, and Australia, the United States said in its 2008 Country report on Terrorism.

The annual report released yesterday by the US State Department said the LTTE financed itself with contributions from the Tamil Diaspora in North America, Europe, and Australia, by imposing local "taxes" on businesses operating in the areas of Sri Lanka under its control, and reportedly by extortion in government-controlled areas. The LTTE also used Tamil charitable organizations as fronts for its fundraising, it added.

The report criticized the Sri Lankan government for its military offensive against the LTTE saying that it is engaged in "any means necessary" tactics to fight the war.

The report also criticized the government for its relationship with the TMVP, the party founded by the breakaway LTTE commander of the Eastern Region, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna and Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan saying that the government has used paramilitary organizations to win the war with the Tigers.

The segment on Sri Lanka in the Country Report is given below :

In Sri Lanka, the government continued its military campaign against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. Both sides continued to engage in “any means necessary” tactics to fight the war. The LTTE used suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks, some of which caused serious civilian casualties. The government has been criticized for using paramilitary organizations that rely on abduction, extra-judicial killings and other illegal tactics to combat the LTTE and their suspected sympathizers. At the end of the year, the military recaptured most of the LTTE-held territory, including Killinochchi, but the LTTE continued to fight, reverting to more asymmetrical tactics, including the continued use of suicide bombers in the capital Colombo.

The Sri Lankan government’s offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), killed more than 7,000 people and displaced many thousands more. Effective January 16, the government formally abrogated the 2002 Cease‑Fire Accord (CFA) with the LTTE, and the conflict intensified during the year. The government maintained control of the Eastern Province, and captured the strategic town of Pooneryn in November, placing the entire northwestern coast under government control. The LTTE controlled a significant, although rapidly shrinking section of the north and carried out attacks throughout the country. The Sri Lankan Army remained deployed across the country in all areas it controlled to fight the insurgency. The Special Task Force (STF) police were deployed in the east, north, and in strategic locations in the west.

In 2008, there were at least 70 attacks attributed to the LTTE, including:

  • The October assassination by suicide bombing of the leader of the opposition in the North Central Provincial Council retired Major General Janaka Perera, UNP organizer Dr. Raja Johnpulle, and 26 others in Anuradhapura.
  • In April, a suicide bomber killed 14 people in Gampaha district including the Minister of Highways Jeyaraj Fernandopulle.
  • Other major LTTE attacks included the August air strikes on the naval base in Trincomalee, a combined air-ground assault on a military base in Vavuniya in September, and the October bombings of the Thallady Army camp in Mannar and the Kelanitissa power plant in Colombo.
  • The LTTE also targeted public transportation systems. In April, a parcel bomb killed 26 civilians at a bus stand in Colombo.
The government used paramilitary groups to assist its military forces in fighting the LTTE. The Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP), led by breakaway‑LTTE eastern commanders Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan aka "Karuna" and Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthen aka "Pillaiyan," operated mostly in the east. Karuna was appointed a Member of Parliament on October 7; Pillaiyan was elected as the Chief Minister of the Eastern Provincial Council. The Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP), led by Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare Douglas Devananda, operated in Jaffna.

In 2008, there were numerous killings of civilians by unknown actors suspected of association with the TMVP or the EPDP. The government captured the key town of Pooneryn in November. At the end of the year, government forces and the LTTE were poised to take LTTE’s administrative headquarters at Kilinochchi. The LTTE maintained control of a shrinking section of the north and retained the capacity to mount attacks throughout the country.

The LTTE financed itself with contributions from the Tamil Diaspora in North America, Europe, and Australia, by imposing local "taxes" on businesses operating in the areas of Sri Lanka under its control, and reportedly by extortion in government-controlled areas. The LTTE also used Tamil charitable organizations as fronts for its fundraising. To date, the Sri Lankan Navy has sunk 10 LTTE supply ships; the most recent sinking occurred in June.

The United States has provided training for relevant Sri Lankan government agencies and the banking sector. The Government of Sri Lanka cooperated with the United States to implement both the Container Security Initiative and the Megaports program at the port of Colombo.

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