Renegade leader claims rebels may want to resume war

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Killinolchchi, 8 March 2004

1. Various of check point, van passing by

2. SOUNDBITE: (Tamil) S.P. Thamilchelvan, Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam (LTT) political wing chief:

"Batticaloa and Ampara commanders who met the (peace) mission, but also our national leader (Vellupillai Prabhakaran) has sent a message to the team that came here, saying that the national leader is in a position to take on board whatever offenses Karuna (the renegade Tamil leader now in the east of the country) has done at the committee and also to grant him an amnesty and let Karuna lead a private life of his own choice, with freedom. That is the amnesty message that has been given by the national leader (Vellupillai Prabhakaran), to be conveyed by the mission that came here to discuss Karuna's situation."

3. Two rebels with a riffle on a stall



Berut camp, Kiran, Batticaloa district, 9 March 2004

4. SOUNDBITE: (Tamil) Neelavani, LTT Women wing commander, supporting the renegade leader:

"From this day onwards, we are accepting the leadership of Karuna, we are prepared to fight for our own land in the East and for the people of the East and if necessary to sacrifice out life."

5. SOUNDBITE: (Tamil) Neelavani Robert, LTT Commander of Batticaloa and Ampara, supporting the renegade leader:

"This decision of going separately and to have a separate administration, shoud have been taken before. I feel it's a little late now because we made a maximum sacrifice in that land (referring to the land in East occupied by the renegade leader), but now I feel (there is a ) strong discrimination against our soldiers and our people. I personally went to Karuna and told him about all this discrimination. Whatever I told him, he replied me that things would not happen like that, we had misunderstood the situation, our leader would give a good opportunity to improve the life of our people and our soldiers."



Killinolchchi, 8 March 2004

6. Wide of Sri Lanka army soldiers walking along the road



Batticaloa City, 9 March 2004:

SOUDBITE: (English) Rt. Rev. Kingsly Swamipillai, Sri Lanka East's Bishop:

"The peace process has been taken up in a very elaborate manner, with a lot of difficulties, with international support and we cannot afford lose it or break it."

4. Various of people with banners demonstrating against the split on the LTT



STORYLINE:



More than two decades of civil war in Sri Lanka between minority Tamils and successive Sinhalese-led governments has taken a potentially explosive ethnic twist: Tamils turning against Tamils.



A commander of the Tamil Tiger rebels last week peeled away 40 percent of its troops (around 6 thousand soldiers) in the country's east, arguing with the northern-based leadership that his region was doing more than its share for the movement. The schism has raised the threat of renewed bloodshed on this tropical island, which has been mostly calm since a February 2002 cease-fire.



Compounding the island's insecurity about an ethnic Tamil blowup is a power struggle in the government. President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who lost her eye in a Tamil Tiger suicide attack in 1999, dissolved Parliament and called snap elections for next month, accusing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of being too soft on the rebel group.



The eastern rebel leader, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, also known as Karuna, commands 6,000 troops and broke away arguing that Tamils of his region had been asked to send too many recruits to the northern region, and that northerners were favored for administrative roles.



On Wednesday, his spokesman said recent requests for recruits by the rebels' northern-based leaders show they were preparing to possibly resume their war against the government.























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