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Sri Lanka sends envoy to India

Sri Lanka sends envoy to India

Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa has sent his brother to India for talks with top officials, days after the New Delhi government called for the protection of ethnic Tamil civilians trapped in the island country's civil war.
Basil Rajapaksa will meet India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, said Prasad Kariyawasam of Sri Lanka's foreign ministry Saturday.
India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said last week that a military victory would not end the decades-old civil war in Sri Lanka and called on both the government and Tamil Tiger rebels to seek a negotiated settlement.
He also expressed concern on the plight of the ethnic Tamils civilians caught up in the fighting.
Sri Lanka says that it has come close to crushing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels and end their 25-year separatist war. The government says its soldiers are just miles (kilometers) away from the town of Kilinochchi, the rebels' de facto capital in the north.
India has generally been reluctant to become directly involved in Sri Lanka's internal affairs after a disastrous military intervention in 1987 that led to the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber.
However, there has been increased pressure in recent weeks from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on the central government to protect the Sri Lankan Tamils.
Some 55 million Tamils living in India's Tamil Nadu are concerned about the future of Sri Lanka's Tamils, with whom they have ancestral links.
Meanwhile advancing government forces launched an artillery barrage on a village in the north, killing two civilians, the rebels said Saturday. Lakshman Hulugalle, a top government spokesman on the war, denied the rebel allegation. "There is absolutely no truth in that," he said.
The Tamil Tiger separatists have repeatedly accused Sri Lankan forces of killing civilians in their drive to crush the rebels. The government says it is trying to avoid civilian casualties.
A rebel statement Saturday said troops pounded the village of Sivanagar west of Kilinochchi with artillery for hours Friday evening, killing Sinaiya Ramalingam and his 32-year-old son, Ramalingam Vijiyananthan.
It is difficult to verify the battlefield reports given by both sides because reporters are largely barred from the war zone. Both sides have been accused of giving false information on the fighting.
The insurgents have been fighting since 1983 to create an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils, who have suffered marginalization at the hands of successive governments controlled by the Sinhalese majority.


Updated : 2021-04-14 15:57 GMT+08:00