SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Impulses and Implications
A low-flying Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)-owned aircraft – a Czech-manufactured Zlin–143, single-engine trainer with a maximum flying speed of 267 kph, a wing-span of 6.95m and a length of 8.8m, and requiring a runway of at least 500m for normal takeoff and landing – proceeded south from a jungle hideout in the northern plains of Sri Lanka, dropped 3 bombs on Sri Lanka’s principal Air Force base at Katunayake at approximately 0100 hrs on Monday, March 26, 2006, and returned unharmed to its base an hour later. Two of the bombs exploded, killing three airmen and injuring about 15 others in the engineering section of the Airbase. According to post-attack official reports, the Israel-built Kfirs and the Ukranian Mig-27s (constituting the main fighter squadrons of the Air Force, used intensively and effectively for pounding LTTE military bases and encampments in the northern and eastern parts of the country throughout the past few months) on which the bombing raid is believed to have been targeted, escaped damage.
Needless to stress, any violent confrontation that results in death and injury cannot be trivialised. Yet, in the context of the ferocity that has characterized the undeclared war between the Government and the LTTE over the past few months, and as an event that represents the culmination of an almost decade-long effort by the Tigers to acquire capacity for aerial attack, last Monday’s bombing of the airbase was a costly fiasco – costly, because it would attract not only retaliatory offensive action but also greater international concern, especially on the possible emulative effects of the modality of attack, and enhanced vigilance both in Sri Lanka and abroad on procurement of military hardware by the Tigers from clandestine arms markets. And, the attack was a fiasco in the sense that it failed to achieve its objective of reducing the Government’s air-strike capability. Indeed, beginning at dawn on Monday, the Sri Lanka Air Force staged a series of furious attacks on LTTE targets almost as if to broadcast the fact that its fighter squadrons remained intact.
Nevertheless, from propaganda perspectives, the LTTE attack did achieve a fairly high level of success. It evoked extraordinary worldwide media attention. In the hourly BBC news broadcasts, for instance, distorted versions of the attack (including an early claim that the Tigers had bombed the international airport at Katunayake) remained the first item of ‘World News’ repeated over more than twelve hours, upstaging Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and other major trouble-spots of the world – a unique ‘record’ for the island despite its two decades of major convulsions.
The less subtle purveyors of anti-Sri Lankan propaganda employed innumerable websites to sensationalise the event as a major Tiger triumph, claiming that the attack would have a cataclysmic impact not only the Government’s war effort, but also on the country’s economy and, indeed, the survival prospects of the Government. Identifying the attack as the first of its kind by any terrorist organization employing its own resources for an air attack, several media pundits perceived in it the onset of a horrendous new phase of the Sri Lankan conflict. Certain Indian commentators, though more sober in their observations, saw in the attack a new threat to the security of their country. Some among them focused on the 500-km flight range which the attack had entailed, and highlighted the ‘Air-Tiger’ capacity to reach strategic installations and other targets even in south India. B. Raman, a former head of India’s Research and Analysis Wing, contributing his own profound expertise on South Asian security concerns to the dissemination of ‘news’ on this incident, declared that the Sri Lankan security forces were unaware of the LTTE’s attempts that had persisted since the late 1990s to develop air-strike capability. More generally, for many LTTE admirers within and outside Sri Lanka, with their usual amnesia on episodes of terrorist attacks elsewhere in the world, the bombing of the airbase epitomised both the innovativeness and indefatigability of the Tiger leadership as well as the blundering buffoonery of the security forces. Meanwhile, the LTTE leaders, basking in this propaganda glory, declared that the raid was merely a demonstration of their newly acquired capability for air attacks of which, they said, there is much more in store.
Contrary to Raman’s assertion referred to above, the Government of Sri Lanka has been aware all along of the attempts being made by the Tigers to develop air strike capacity. Anti-aircraft guns were installed at several strategic spots in Colombo as far back as the late 1990s. Intelligence reports, including those presented to the Government of India in 2001 in connection with seeking India’s assistance for the installation of the existing radar system at the airbase, refer specifically to the LTTE’s possession of several light aircraft (Pilatus PC7, Pilatus PC21 and Zlin 143). The construction by the LTTE of a runway at Iranamadu was known both to the Government as well as the Scandinavian-manned Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, with the latter declaring it a violation of the ceasefire agreement. In fact, the runway was bombed on several occasions by the Sri Lanka Air Force. More recently, there have been reports of the LTTE using light aircraft on at least two occasions – for strewing flowers on a Tiger graveyard at an annual Mahaveer celebration, and for an intimidatory simulated bombing of a cargo vessel conveying food from Trincomalee to the northern port of Kankesanthurai. The elements of surprise were, of course, there, both in the failure of the radar system at the airbase to detect the attacking aircraft, as well as in the brinkmanship displayed in the ‘hit-or-miss’ modality of the attack which, had it succeeded, could have had a significant impact.
The genuine impulses of the LTTE’s decision to bomb the Katunayake Airbase appear distinct only when they are set against the general trend of losses and setbacks suffered by the LTTE from about mid-2006. In the Eastern Province, beginning with the unsuccessful attempt to disrupt the Mavil Aru irrigation system of the Mahaveli Delta, there were the more extensive losses suffered in the strategically important Sampur, Muttur and Toppur areas south of the Trincomalee Harbour, over most of which the LTTE had established a stranglehold following the ceasefire of December 2001, in blatant violation of the ceasefire terms. By the end of 2006, the Security Forces (SFs) had captured about 18 Tiger bases and encampments located in this area, and had blunted the LTTE capacity to launch missile attacks from such bases on the Government military installations around the harbour. Consequent to the eviction of Tiger forces from the areas adjacent to Trincomalee, by late 2006, the coastal lowlands of Batticaloa District had emerged as the most powerful Tiger base in the east, the harassment of the breakaway ‘Karuna Faction’ since mid-2004 notwithstanding. It is in this area that the Government Forces have made the most tangible advances in the past three months, effectively clearing the entire coastal stretch from Trincomalee to Batticaloa of Tiger control.
On 28 March 2007, the largest of the Tiger bases in the east – Kokkadacholai, from which the operations in this part of the country appear to have been directed – was captured by the army, and a large haul of weapons was recovered. Though sporadic acts of terrorism, such as the suicide attack on the Army camp at Chenkaladi north of Batticaloa on March 27, 2007, will no doubt persist, the LTTE’s control over territory in the east has been shattered.
In the northern parts of the country, although the military confrontations (Muhamalai in Jaffna peninsula, the island of Kayts, areas adjacent to Mannar, and the forest tracts south of the Madhu shrine have been the main venues of recent clashes) do not indicate distinct trends of losses or gains on either side of the great divide, in comparative terms, the Tiger losses have probably been greater than those of the government’s SFs. These ‘terrestrial’ losses of the LTTE have been paralleled by equally severe ‘maritime’ losses. A rough impression of their magnitude is conveyed by the fact that, since January 2006, the Sri Lanka Navy has destroyed and/or intercepted 9 transoceanic arms shipments of the LTTE, in addition to many smaller boats engaged in transporting contraband across the Palk Straits which, despite strengthened preventive measures, continues to remain one the more porous international frontiers of South Asia.
The record of terrorist offensives launched by the LTTE on targets elsewhere in Sri Lanka since January 2006 also reflects meagre achievement, the most spectacular ‘successes’ among them being the mortar attack on an omnibus that killed 64 peasants in one of the most remote rural areas of the North-Central Province on June 15, 2006; and the killing of about 35 soldiers on their way home on leave from battle grounds in the east, on July 31, 2006. In addition, scores of Tamil civilians whom the LTTE had branded as traitors to the ‘liberation struggle’ have been liquidated. Among the high profile failures that feature in this record are the attempted assassinations of the Army Commander, the High Commissioner for Pakistan, and the Secretary of Defence (all in Colombo); and the sea-borne attacks on the ports at Galle and Colombo.
In the context of these failures and losses, it is credible to speculate that the deteriorating morale within the ranks of the LTTE is likely to have provided one of the main impulses for the March 26 Airbase attack. The Tiger leadership is likely to have reasoned that an innovative attack of stunning impact on the Government’s SFs could restore the sagging image of their invincibility, and at once attract the dwindling popular support of the Tamils of the ‘north-east’. There is, in addition, the likelihood that the recent battle-field setbacks have had an adverse effect on the LTTE’s fund-raising efforts outside the country. In this respect, the support of the Tamil Diaspora to the LTTE ‘liberation effort’ is much like the support of cricket enthusiasts to the ‘World Cup efforts’ of their cricketing demigods – at their feet in victory, and at their throats in defeat.
It is no secret that the LTTE utilised the lax security ethos of the farcical ceasefire period (December 2001 onwards) for a massive rejuvenation of its fighting capacity. Intelligence sources indicate that between December 2001 and March 2004 (the time of the Karuna revolt), the trained fighting cadres of the LTTE increased from about 7,000 to 16,000. Further, as pointed out recently by the editor of a prestigious national daily, over the brief period of the ‘peace talks’ (September 2002 to February 2003) crate-loads of consignments were allowed to pass through the country’s main ports of entry without the usual customs’ checks, and were conveyed in military convoys to the Tiger stronghold in the Vanni – all in the name of ‘confidence building’ between the Government and the LTTE leadership. There is moreover a persuasive body of evidence indicating that LTTE sympathisers from outside the country including certain International Non-Governmental Organisation (INGO) personnel, operating almost entirely without restriction in the post-Tsunami chaos, helped the LTTE in its rejuvenation efforts, apparently on the basis of a belief that a negotiated settlement of the Sri Lankan conflict could be facilitated only if the LTTE were to achieve parity of military strength vis-à-vis the Government of Sri Lanka. The cumulative impact was that, when the escalated level of hostilities commenced in mid-2006, despite the losses incurred by the Tsunami and the Karuna defection, the LTTE was better manned and better equipped than it had been in the heyday of its battle-field victories of the late 1990s.
This does not, however, imply that it has been easy for the LTTE to recover from the losses and setbacks of the more recent past. The addition of the European Union ban to the existing proscriptions of the LTTE, greater vigilance over illegal arms transactions in at least some of the source countries (as reported from the United States and Ukraine in the past three months), the strengthened Indo-Lankan collaboration in coastal surveillance and exchanges of security information, and the substantially increased operational capacity of the Sri Lanka Navy (demonstrated through repeated interceptions of arms shipments), have converged to make it more difficult than ever before for the LTTE to engage in bulk procurement and transfer of arms and ammunition to replenish its arsenal. The replacement of the personnel losses is probably even more problematic. The densely populated coastal lowlands of the east, where there is a large and impoverished Tamil population, are no longer the brim-full reservoir of young conscripts to the Tiger cadres that they once were; and the forest-clad Vanni, which has remained under the LTTE jackboot, has hardly ever been a significant source of fresh recruits. The possibility of attracting youth from the economically depressed ‘Indian Tamil’ community of the central highlands cannot be ruled out. But for that to happen, the LTTE must hit a winning streak.
Despite the deployment of an estimated 80,000 troops along the Afghan border in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the situation is far from stable in a region that is crucial to Islamabad and Washington. This was confirmed over the past two weeks, when at least 227 persons,, most of them reportedly al Qaeda-linked foreign militants, were killed between March 19-31, 2007, in clashes between local tribesmen and militants in South Waziristan near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Approximately 160 persons, including 150 foreign militants, were killed in four days of clashes over March 19 to 22, between the al Qaeda-linked militants and pro-Government tribesmen in Shin Warsak village, seven-kilometers west of Wana, headquarters of South Waziristan.
Pro-Government tribesmen launched ‘operations’ in March 2007 targeting hideouts of the foreign militants as part of a strategy to drive them out of Waziristan. The first round of violence began on March 6 when approximately 19 people, including 12 Uzbek militants, were killed in a clash between the Wazir Zalikhel sub-tribe and foreign militants near Azam Warsak in South Waziristan. The al Qaeda militants, numbering between 500-1000, are now effectively cornered in the hilly terrain, as all roads to the areas where they are holed up are controlled by Maulana Nazir, a pro-Government Taliban ‘commander’ (chief of the Taliban Shura for Ahmadzai Wazir-dominated areas of South Waziristan), and his 1,500 supporters. Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao disclosed: "Fifty-four people were killed today [March 30] and two yesterday. They include 45 foreigners," adding further, "The fighting is going on… it intensified today after peace talks failed. Tribes are insisting on their demand that these people either surrender or quit the area." A Maulana Nazir supporter earlier told Associated Press that local tribesmen had killed 35 Uzbeks and lost 10 of their own men.
According to open source information monitored by the South Asia Terrorism Portal, throughout 2005, 285 people, including 92 civilians and 158 terrorists, were killed in Waziristan in 165 incidents. In 2006, the death toll was 590, including 109 civilians, 144 soldiers and 337 terrorists, in 248 incidents. Just in the first three months of year 2007 have seen approximately 288 people, including 37 civilians, eight soldiers and 243 terrorists, killed, an unambiguous indication of the state of play in Pakistan’s most troubled region. Given Islamabad's understated accounts, the suppression of the Press and erratic reportage, the actual numbers could be much higher.
It is necessary to reiterate that the local Taliban are in effective control of most of Waziristan. The locus of current fighting is in the Azam Warsak, Shin Warsak and Kalusha areas of South Waziristan. Indications are that the violence could escalate since tribal leader Haji Sharif, on March 29, ruled out any negotiations with the foreign militants. Some pro-government tribal commanders have said ‘operations’ would continue until all foreign militants are ‘expelled’ from Waziristan.
The pro-Government tribesmen have, interestingly, targeted only the foreigners – militants from a mélange of countries, including Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Arab world. A majority of the foreign militants are reportedly from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which is led by Tahir Yuldashev and his local associates, including Noor Islam, Javed Zalikhel and Maulana Abdul Aziz. While not much information is available on the strategic aspects of what appears to be a vigilante campaign, military spokesperson Major General Waheed Arshad claimed, "It's a success of the Government tribesmen strategy... the tribesmen are fed up with them because they and their activities adversely affect their lives and business." The military regime believes that a vigilante movement by the local tribesmen could curb cross-border attacks by the militants in Afghanistan. The Pakistani government "is not intervening" in the clashes, an unnamed senior security official told AFP: "We hope this onslaught against foreign militants will help reduce cross-border activity. The foreigners were involved in this cross-border activity… This is a decisive battle for us."
There has not been any respite in the fighting despite the fact that a Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam [Fazlur Rehman faction (JUI-F)]-dominated Jirga (tribal council) had mediated a truce between the two sides on March 22. Niaz Muhammad Qureshi, JUI-F information secretary for South Waziristan, stated after the cease-fire, "We are glad that the two sides conceded to the tribal elders and clerics’ plea for silencing their guns in order to solve their issues through peaceful means." Militant leaders like Baitullah Mehsud, Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of senior Taliban ‘commander’ Jalaluddin Haqqani, and an unnamed Taliban ‘commander’ from Afghanistan reportedly reached unnamed locations in South Waziristan to arrive at the deal. Reports indicate that Maulana Nazir, ‘commander’ of the pro-Taliban militants, was at one point disinclined to a truce. However, the Jirga, in which Government nominees were also present, persuaded him after lengthy discussions.
Islamabad has been trying since 2002 to evict or neutralise the foreign militants in Waziristan. A majority of them, wanted in their home countries, have been holed up in Waziristan for years and it is highly unlikely that they could be persuaded to leave. Sources indicate that, after the Shakai agreement in 2004 (which failed to end violence and eventually collapsed when Nek Muhammad, whose ‘surrender’ in April 2004 was a widely publicized event, turned his back on the Army and was eventually neutralised in a targeted missile attack on June 17, 2004), not a single foreigner left the region. The marginal reduction in their numbers since then is primarily due to the fact that many have gone ‘missing in action’. Further, the local Taliban have never acknowledged that foreign elements are present in the area. Indeed, after the military regime’s accord with the local Taliban in North Waziristan in September 2006, a spokesman for the militants reiterated that there were no foreigners and that Islamabad had yet to provide any proof of their presence. On September 5, 2006, Taliban leaders in North Waziristan had signed a ‘peace agreement’ with the Government, promising to halt cross-border movement and stop attacks on Government installations and security forces. However, the U.S. military and NATO officials now believe that attacks have risen sharply since the deal. Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State, during a visit to Islamabad in March 2007, stated, "I think everybody recognises that, at this point, the political deal in Waziristan has not stopped the militancy." And US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on March 7 that the Taliban and al Qaeda were using Pakistan's tribal areas, particularly North Waziristan, to regroup. "I would say the Taliban and Al Qaeda have been able to use the areas around, particularly North Waziristan, to regroup and it is a problem," Gates told reporters at the Pentagon. Further, the outgoing US Ambassador to Pakistan, Ryan C. Crocker, said, on March 8, that the peace deal in Waziristan, though "well written", has not been implemented. In an interview to Khyber television channel, Crocker stated: "We asked Pakistan to ensure that the agreement would be respected. I personally appreciate the points written in the agreement but unfortunately the militants haven't respected the agreement because there are some tribal areas where the Pakistan Government doesn't have full control."
When operations were launched against the Taliban-al Qaeda combine in the FATA in 2002, the Army, under enormous pressure from the US, was convinced that a military victory was essential. Four years down the line, it is the proponents of a violent jihad who have achieved strategic success. In more ways than one, it is a signal that the Pakistan Army has failed in its quest for a military victory. The Taliban have de facto control over most of Waziristan and, more importantly, have full freedom of movement and activities across the region. The current round of violence is only a continuation of the manifest retreat of the state.
Part of President Pervez Musharraf’s operational strategy in arriving at peace deals in Waziristan has been to drive a wedge between the local Taliban and foreign militants. Islamabad’s policy in Waziristan remains a curious mixture of force, economic sanctions and political engagement. But none of these appears to be leading to order and stability in the region.
Four years after Pakistani soldiers first entered FATA, there is very little to cheer about for Islamabad. The state has little effective presence in the area, and the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan are nowhere close to governance or stability. Pakistan’s ‘lawless frontier’ is now clearly in the grip of Islamist extremist forces, which have mounted the most serious challenge so far against Islamabad. The Taliban consolidation and violence on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, which shows every sign of consolidation over time, could have disastrous consequences over the long run, for both Islamabad and Kabul.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
March 26-April 01, 2007
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
Six top Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh militants executed: In the early hours of March 30, 2007, six top militants of the Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), including the outfit’s chief Abdur Rahman and second-in-command, Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai, were executed in different jails. The other militants hanged were Majlish-e-Shura (the highest decision-making body) members Abdul Awal, Khaled Saifullah and Ataur Rahman Sunny and suicide squad member Iftekhar Hasan Al-Mamun. All of them had been convicted of killing two judges in Jhalakathi in November 2005. Inspector General of Prisons, Brigadier Zakir Hassan, said: "They were hanged in four different jails and their dead bodies were handed over to their families." BBC, March 30, 2007.
1950 detonators recovered in Tamil Nadu: On March 28, 2007, a special anti-terror squad of the Tamil Nadu Police recovered two sacks containing 1950 electrical detonators from Ramanathapuram, part of the southeastern coast. The ammunition cache was buried in a coconut grove at Irumeni under Uchipuli police limits, 40 kilometers west of Pamban Bridge that links Rameswaram Island to Mandapam, near the final land frontier on the Palk Strait that divide India and Sri Lanka. Ramanathapuram Superintendent of Police, R. Thirugnanam, disclosed that the cache was meant for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). "The detonators were wrapped in newspapers that are one-year-old. We believe that they were buried a year ago," Thirugnanam told. Five people are being interrogated in connection with the recovery. Times of India, March 29, 2007.
Minister rules out demilitarization
of Jammu and Kashmir:
On March 29, 2007, Chief Minister
Ghulam Nabi Azad rejected
the demand for troops reduction
in Jammu and Kashmir, saying
that politicians or political
parties should not decide
on the role of the security
forces. After meeting Prime
Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh
in New Delhi, Azad said, "Any
decision on adjustment of
forces should be left to the
security agencies and the
State Government and no political
consensus is required on the
issue." The Chief Minister,
however, agreed on the constitution
of a committee of officials
to look into the demands of
the People's Democratic Party
but made it clear that there
should be no political representation
on it. The committee is likely
to be announced soon.
March 30, 2007.
Maoists join interim Government: A 22-member interim Government, including the Communist Party of Nepal- Maoist (CPN-Maoist), was formed on April 1, 2007, under the Prime Ministership of Girija Prasad Koirala. Earlier in the day, Koirala resigned from his post and was re-elected unanimously by the interim legislature. A meeting of top leaders of the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the CPN-Maoist also took a key decision to hold the Constituent Assembly elections on June 20. It decided to amend the interim Constitution to give powers to the interim legislature to abolish monarchy by a two-thirds majority. The parties also said the legislature would overthrow the monarchy if the King tried to conspire against the Constituent Assembly elections. Addressing the House after the swearing-in, Koirala said the formation of the interim Government was a "new chapter" in the country's history. Talking to the media, Maoist chairman Prachanda termed the interim Government as historic. "I feel this is a historical day in the formation of a new Nepal," he said. Hindu; Kantipur Online, April 2, 2007.
56 persons killed in continued fighting in South Waziristan: Pakistani tribesmen traded heavy rocket and mortar fire with foreign al Qaeda militants in Waziristan for a second day on March 30, 2007, leaving 56 people dead, said the Interior Minister. "Fifty-four people were killed today (and) two yesterday. They include 45 foreigners," said Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao, adding, "The fighting is going on … it intensified today after peace talks failed. Tribes are insisting on their demand that these people either surrender or quit the area." Earlier, a security official said tribesmen overnight seized control of a school that foreigners were using as their base in Ghawakha, a town near Wana, killing seven Uzbeks. Daily Times, March 31, 2007.
25 militants and a soldier killed in North West Frontier Province: At least 25 Taliban militants and a paramilitary soldier were killed in a gun battle that continued for six-hours at Tank in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) on March 28, 2007. Tank District Police Officer Mumtaz Zarin said that security forces killed at least 25 militants when more than 200 Taliban cadres attacked the city from all sides. A police source said that two police stations, a paramilitary fort and bank branches were damaged in the attack. "Several banks were looted and their record was burnt," he added. Curfew was imposed in the city and the civil administration asked the army for help in preventing the Taliban from taking control of the city. NWFP Inspector General of Police Sharif Virk said, "The (Taliban) attack was repulsed effectively." The recent surge in violence began on March 26 when police clashed with Taliban recruiters outside a private school and a police officer and a militant were killed. Daily Times, March 28, 2007.
Four ISI men killed in Bajaur Agency: Unidentified gunmen attacked an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) vehicle in the Rashakai area – 10-kilometres from Khar Bazaar of Bajaur Agency – on March 27, 2007, killing four officials, including Deputy Director Mohammad Sadique alias Major Hamza. The other three officials were identified as Saeedur Rehman, Hussain Ahmad and Umer Khan. An Intelligence Bureau official said that the ISI vehicle was on its way to Khar from Nawagai when the assailants fired at them and lobbed a hand grenade at their vehicle. Daily Times, March 28, 2007.
LTTE attacks Air Force base at Katunayake: The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) carried out their first ever air attack on the main Sri Lankan Air Force base in Katunayake, killing three air force personnel and injuring another seventeen at 12:45 am on March 26, 2007. A light wing aircraft manned by the outfit dropped two bombs near the engineering section of the base, Media Center for National Security said. There were no damages to the fighter jets. The bombing did not affect the adjoining Bandaranaike International Airport except for its brief shutdown during which few commercials flights were diverted to destinations in India. Meanwhile, the LTTE claimed responsibility for the attack warning more attacks to follow. "A couple of aircraft of Tamil Eelam Air Force have launched an attack on a Sri Lankan military airfield and hangars of military aircraft," LTTE spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiraiyan said. Colombo Page, March 26, 2007.
No negotiated settlement with the LTTE, says Prime Minister: Sri Lanka Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayaka said on March 27, 2007, that the Government would not agree to a negotiated settlement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), according to Colombo Page. Responding to a letter sent to him by the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe to call the Parliament to debate the country's security situation, he assured that the victories the Government achieved would be taken forward and the state would not let to be shattered. The Prime Minister further said that there is no perpetual war in the country but retaliation to the attacks against the government security forces. Colombo Page, March 29, 2007.