SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
J&K: Experiments with Terror
Late in June, the Lashkar-e-Toiba’s (LeT) top commander for north Kashmir emerged from the forests above the small mountain hamlet of Sumlar, and ordered its residents to gather in the local mosque.
“I don’t want to see young girls and boys roaming around with mobile phones, for it will lead to immorality and vice,” said the imposing 6-foot 6-inch Pakistani national, who is, so far, known only by the multiple aliases ‘Bilal,’ ‘Salahuddin and ‘Haider’. Three terrified teenage girls found in possession of the offending instruments were dragged into the centre of the mosque and tonsured in full public view.
Bilal’s concerns in fact had little to do with morals, for text messaging allows Indian informants to report Bilal’s rare movements out of the dense forests that run north from the mountains above Bandipora to the Line of Control (LoC). His forest fortress is at the centre of new Lashkar strategies designed to demonstrate its reach and power in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), despite the degradation of its cadre strength and war resources.
Where Taliban-linked terror groups in Afghanistan or Islamist insurgents in Iraq have, in recent months, demonstrated quasi-conventional military abilities, the Lashkar in J&K seems to be going down the opposite route. It seeks to use untrained, expendable cadre to execute strikes of little military value, hoping that these will act as an instrument through which the dialogue process in J&K may be subverted.
The J&K Police, last week, identified Bilal – who helped organise the October 29, 2005, serial bombings at New Delhi as well as an abortive 2004 attempt on the life of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – as the architect of the recent terror offensive which has rocked J&K’s summer capital, Srinagar. Director-General of Police Gopal Sharma has now announced a INR 500,000 reward for information on the Lashkar ‘commander’.
Sharma made the declaration at a press conference organised to announce the arrest of twelve alleged Lashkar operatives who helped execute the fidayeen (suicide squad cadre) attack, which targeted a Congress rally in Srinagar on the eve of the Prime Minister’s Round Table Conference on Jammu and Kashmir on May 24-25, 2006. Five people were killed in the attack and twenty-one, including Inspector-General of Police K. Rajendra, were seriously injured.
Along with his key lieutenant, a north Kashmir resident identified as Mudasir Gojri, Bilal also directed twelve separate grenade attacks on civilian and military targets – seven of which took place simultaneously on April 14 – as well a series of assassinations. Members of the cell assassinated two policemen on May 11, and murdered Mohammad Riyaz, a Sopore resident whom the Lashkar had earlier attempted to kill for the ‘crime’ of gambling.
Investigators have found that the two fidayeen who attacked the Congress rally had been dispatched by ‘Bilal’ to Srinagar on May 20, accompanied by two still-unidentified women. Gojri, according to the police, separately arranged for a Srinagar-based Lashkar operative, Mohammad Yusuf Dagga, to ship the weapons and explosives used in the attack from a cache in the Bandipora mountains. Both the fidayeen-squad members and the weapons were hidden overnight at a hotel that is being constructed near Regal Chowk, a prominent Srinagar landmark. The next morning, Gojri, Dagga and a third terrorist, Wasim Zargar, provided the two fidayeen with the fake police uniforms which helped them penetrate the security around the rally.
While the use of Bandipora as a base to funnel fidayeen into major cities across India isn’t news, the profile of the twelve arrested Lashkar operatives demonstrates changing tactics and intentions. For long a magnet for ideology-driven Islamists with computer and engineering skills, the LeT has now started to fish for recruits amongst Srinagar’s urban underclass, using cash as bait.
Notably, not one of the members of the cell had received weapons or explosives training at the Lashkar’s camps in Pakistan, or been given pre- or post-recruitment ideological indoctrination at seminaries. Instead, the Lashkar drew its new cadre from the ranks of Srinagar’s ill-educated and low-skilled artisans and vendors, offering cash in return for their participation in terrorist strikes, including grenade attacks.
Mohammad Yusuf Dagga, the principal organiser of the Lashkar cell, was perhaps the only terrorist hand with operational experience – and even this was negligible. Dagga was pulled out of school after his sixth grade by his father and put to work selling vegetables on the streets. Bored and frustrated, he began to act as a courier for Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) weapons and explosives at the age of just twelve. Dagga’s parents promptly handed him over to the Border Security Force (BSF) – and, after a brief stint under detention, he resumed work selling vegetables. However, the street business just didn’t yield the kind of income or excitement Dagga craved. In January, Javed Sofi, an old associate from his HM days, approached Dagga with a simple offer: INR 1,000 – roughly US$ 22 – for each grenade thrown at Indian forces.
Wasim Zargar, who, after Dagga and Sofi, was perhaps the most important member of the cell, also dropped out of school in 1999. He succeeded in passing his eight-grade examinations at the age of sixteen. Zargar then worked as an apprentice shawl weaver until 2001, when he agreed to start supplying cellphone SIM cards to a Srinagar-based Lashkar operative, Ijaz Ahmad Kital. Part of the profits Zargar made from this enterprise went into setting up his own cosmetics store. More cash was promised when he was recruited by Dagga to execute grenade strikes and shootouts in Srinagar. Like Dagga himself, though, Zargar was paid only small sums for his actions. Most of the dozen-odd grenade strikes and shootouts he participated in between January and May this year brought in just INR 1,000 each.
Others, like Bilal Ahmad Mir, seem to have been driven by personal frustration. The eldest of five sons of a National Conference-affiliated municipal politician, Mir dropped out of school after the fifth grade. He apprenticed with a local tailor from 1989, but proved unable to make a living. Moreover, Mir’s three younger brothers continued their studies with some success – a fact which further eroded his self-esteem. Like Mir, Mohammad Yaqoob Sheikh was the least successful of his four brothers. A copper-work artisan, Mir dropped out of school after the third grade to learn his trade. However, the long-standing decline in demand for hand-made utensils meant that his brothers, all of whom worked as truck drivers, made a far better living. Desperate for cash, Sheikh agreed to throw a grenade at a bus carrying tourists on May 25, 2006.
For the Lashkar, which has suffered a series of command-level losses in Indian counter-terrorist operations, such tactics make eminent sense. While conserving its leadership and crack fidayeen-squad personnel for high-profile operations of particular significance, the Lashkar’s outsourcing of terrorist acts helps the organisation execute enough attacks to demonstrate its presence and resolve.
Consider the facts: the numbers of violent incidents in J&K since 2001 have declined markedly, but fidayeen attacks, bombings and grenade attacks in the first six months of 2006, have almost doubled compared with the same period in 2005. And, while Indian Security Force fatalities have also fallen, killings of policemen – the principal security actors in cities – have also increased this year.
For Indian strategists, this hold holds out two challenges. The first is clearing the Bandipora forests and other mountain regions used as secure bases by terrorist groups, such as the Yaripora-Shopian-Tral belt in south Kashmir or Harwan near Srinagar. Ever since 1999-2000, the Lashkar started developing well-hidden and fortified hideouts in these areas, defended by an elaborate system of lookouts. Now, though, matters have begun to come to a head. Sources indicate that, at a June 20 briefing organised for United Progressive Alliance chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, the Northern Army Commander, Lieutenant-General Deepak Kapoor, argued that the real problem was lack of will among the 31,000 men of the J&K Police and Central Reserve Police Force committed to protecting the State capital. At a subsequent meeting with National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, though, police and intelligence personnel hit back. Officials argued that it was impossible to secure Srinagar unless the Lashkar’s mountain bases were destroyed. Local operatives working for the Lashkar had repeatedly been arrested since 2002, Narayanan was told, but their commanders in Bandipora continued to operate with relative impunity.
What can be done? Since 2000-2001, military strategists have discussed a division-strength operation involving pushing troops south from the Bod Kol river near Gurez, along the LoC, and north through Patwan and Chatarnar, above Bandipora town. However, such action has been deterred by the prospects that many of the estimated 50-75 Pakistani terrorists in the Bandipora forests will, most likely, evade such an operation. Military planners also fear that that an offensive push against well-defended positions could result in casualties not commensurate with the potential dividends: a public-relations disaster. Keeping the forests free of terrorists, once cleared, will also require additional troops – a tall order in the midst of a détente process where several actors are demanding a reduction in force levels.
A second option is to simply wait for attrition to take its course. Indian intelligence estimates suggest that 189 terrorists had succeeded in crossing the LoC between January and May 2006. Before snow closes the mountain passes in November, overall infiltration for 2006 is likely to be somewhat lower than the 2005 figure of 597. Several factors, including improved electronic surveillance, appear to have driven the decline. Although a precise determination of successful infiltration is nigh-impossible, official estimates suggest it has been in steady decline since 2001, when an estimated 2,417 terrorists crossed the LoC. The figure fell to 1,504 in 2002, 1,373 in 2003, and 537 in 2004, rising somewhat in 2005 because of the degradation of India’s forward defences and LoC fencing after the great Kashmir earthquake of October 8, 2005.
Despite the Army’s successes, though, terrorists appear to have been able to part-replenish the materials needed for their ongoing campaign. On June 20, two weeks after a large infiltration attempt was interdicted in the Macchal sector, troops recovered a multi-tonne cache of arms, equipment and explosives, including 338 hand-grenades – the weapon of choice in recent urban terrorist strikes. Large stocks of explosives and communication equipment were also found.
Terrorists have also improved their fencing-penetration skills. Days before a June 29 infiltration attempt in which eight terrorists were killed, another large Lashkar unit had succeeded in cutting the fencing without activating sensors. While the fencing has improved interdiction considerably, an estimated 30 to 40 per cent of the defensive line along the LoC has been destroyed by snowfall, leaving gaps which may take up to six months to repair.
Under other circumstances, current infiltration and violence levels would not be a matter for alarm. Indeed, Indian security planners could take heart from the Lashkar’s changing strategies and read them as a sign that terror groups are under very real pressure. However, continuing violence imposes significant costs on India’s political establishment, limiting its ability to push forward with the peace process.
Two areas of impasse are now key. With its northern Army reserve depleted by counter-insurgency operations in the North West Frontier Province and Balochistan, Pakistan has become increasingly worried about the integrity of its posture along the LoC, and this is the concern underlying President Pervez Musharaf’s frequent and strident demands for Force reduction on the Indian side. India, however, has rejected Pakistan’s calls for a reduction of troops in the region, pointing to continued cross-border infiltration and terrorism in J&K.
Second, and perhaps more important, terrorism restricts India’s ability to move forward on building up a broad-based dialogue with a wide spectrum of political opinion within J&K itself. Marketing political concessions on J&K to an electorate that perceives itself to be under terrorist siege is no easy task, as Prime Minister Singh and his advisors are discovering.
As things stand, the peace process resembles nothing so much as an arch without its keystone – in this case, an end to killing. Now as before, though, the keystone is stored in Islamabad, not New Delhi or Srinagar. Beset as he is with multiple internal crises, few believe that General Musharraf will be able to find the energy to haul it across the LoC any time soon.
Peace is a Tool of War
With the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) virtually in tatters, Sri Lanka oscillates between hope and despair as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) keeps everyone guessing. Amidst bloodshed and mayhem, the rebels send conflicting signals which, at times, tempt the war-weary and desperate people to defy reason and entertain a glimmer of hope. But the ground realities present a different and bleak picture – Sri Lanka is fast sliding back to a full-scale war.
There is no gainsaying that the country is already in the midst of a low-intensity war, and the only factor that prevents analysts from describing the situation as an all-out war is the regular statements the rebels issue, expressing their ‘commitment’ to the CFA. But then the rebels do not match their words with deeds.
An overwhelming majority in the Sinhala community, including those who have long given the LTTE the benefit of the doubt in the interests of peace, now believe the LTTE can no longer be trusted. It is also the case that some Tamils, whom the LTTE claims to represent, are also unhappy with the present developments. The Tamils, who believed that the CFA the Tigers signed with the Sri Lankan Government would help them win autonomy within a federal Sri Lanka, blame both the Government and the Tigers for not conducting negotiation in a spirit of give-and-take, blaming both sides for squandering an opportunity for peace at the Geneva talks on February 22-23, 2006. Save the handshake at the beginning of the Geneva talks, it was a war of words between the two sides waged for two days at the Swiss chateau.
With hindsight, it can be easily be seen that, throughout Sri Lanka’s 23-year separatist war, the LTTE has been setting all the traps — either in war or in peace — and the Governments of the day have simply walked into these.
Many a Sinhala hardliner stands vindicated today for warning the Governments not to trust the LTTE, describing the LTTE’s peace gambit as a ploy to regroup and rearm for another major offensive. Had the LTTE been keen on a political solution, it would not have engineered the victory of Mahinda Rajapakse, who aligned himself with hardline Sinhala parties at the November 2005 presidential election. If the Tamils had been allowed to vote freely, opposition candidate Ranil Wickremesinghe would have won the elections and the LTTE would have secured a Tsunami aid-sharing mechanism as an initial concession and would also have won some form of political and administrative authority for the north and east. But the LTTE, clearly, had different plans – indeed, a multiplicity of contingency plans.
The Government is not lost to the reality that the war cannot be won, although hardline parties such as the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), in an apparent bid to gain political mileage, arouse Sinhala nationalist emotions and promote the view that the separatist rebellion could be militarily crushed. The Government is also aware that India will not get militarily involved in the Sri Lankan conflict to help crush the LTTE. Neither will India allow another country or even the United Nations to intervene in the Sri Lankan conflict.
The Government is also aware that the international community will continue to stress a peaceful solution to the conflict even though more and more countries brand the LTTE a terrorist organization. The fact that the international community holds the purse strings and is in a position to exert pressure on the Sri Lankan Government and to focus on human rights violations, is also not lost on the Rajapakse Administration.
These circumstances have forced the Government to resort to a measured response in retaliation to the LTTE’s acts of violence against civilians and military targets.
Since April more than 700 people — half of civilians — have died in renewed violence. The Government exercised restraint at the beginning but launched military operations of a limited nature when a suspected LTTE suicide cadre blew herself up in an attempt to kill the Army Chief on April 25. A month later, when some 64 civilians were killed in a rebel attack on a passenger bus in a frontline village, the Government again launched limited air strikes against LTTE positions, and claimed that the air strikes caused damage to the LTTE’s airstrip in the Mullaitivu jungles, though there is no independent verification of this claim.
It appears, however, that air strikes and artillery barrages by the security forces have not caused any significant losses to the LTTE. If anything, it is the civilians living in the LTTE-controlled territories who have suffered the brunt of these attacks, with many leaving villages, while others stay back to tell their woes to the outside world. Even Tamil people living in Government-controlled areas speak of atrocities by the security forces, and there have been allegations of rape and looting by men in uniform wearing hoods.
The Security Forces are also said to be hitting back at the LTTE, using the rebels’ own tactics. Deep penetration units of the security forces, with the help of the Karuna faction, have planted claymore bombs aimed at vehicles carrying top LTTE cadres inside rebel-controlled areas. Citing these incidents, pro-LTTE websites justify LTTE attacks in Colombo.
Strangely, the Government launched no retaliatory strikes when the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Parami Kulatunga, was killed in an LTTE suicide attack on June 26, 2006. The attack on Lt. Gen. Kulatunga came a week after a botched attempt by the LTTE to attack the Colombo harbour, on June 19.
Whether the Government’s restraint is due to intelligence advice or its desire not to scuttle renewed efforts at resuming the peace process is not clear. What is obvious, however, is that the security situation in the country is becoming volatile by the day. Some military analysts, who take LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s ‘Heroes Day’ speech in November 2005 seriously, say the LTTE is preparing for the decisive phase of the Eelam war. According to these analysts, the focus of the LTTE on attacking targets in Colombo and suburbs is not without strategic significance.
Under the CFA, the LTTE allowed international organizations to remove landmines from the northern and eastern battlefields, sending signals to the world that it was serious about the peace process. With large parts of the north-east being demined to a great extent, the security forces can gain unimpeded access to Tiger areas if full-scale hostilities break out. Therefore, the LTTE apparently feels that the war should be taken outside the areas it dominates, and particularly into Colombo, its suburbs and other important cities in the south. Military strategists say such a move will require a greater security forces presence in Colombo and other areas in the south, effectively implying a weakened presence in the north and east. If full scale war breaks out, consequently, the theatres of conflict will not only be the north and the east, but also the capital.
The economic costs of such an eventuality would be devastating. While the Government will have some success in the eastern front because of its alliance with the Karuna faction, it will find it difficult to control the north and to keep Colombo safe. The Government, of course, officially denies it has any dealing with the breakaway LTTE faction.
The fear of war coming to Colombo and damaging the economy has fuelled President Rajapakse’s efforts to strike a direct but secret deal with the LTTE. Two weeks ago, he contacted the editor and the publisher of the Jaffna-based pro-LTTE newspaper, Udayan, and asked them whether they could use their good offices to arrange talks with the LTTE, bypassing the Norwegians, the facilitators of the current Sri Lanka peace process. The media duo conveyed the President’s message to the LTTE, and in turn delivered the rebels reply to the President. Although the LTTE rejected outright the President’s call for secret talks, it forwarded five proposals to stall the outbreak of a full-scale war and create conditions for a resumption of the dialogue process. These were:
In substance, once again, the whole issue boils down to one factor – the Karuna group. It is on this issue that the second round of Geneva talks scheduled for April 19-21, 2006, did not take place. But the Government does not want to take risk antagonizing the Karuna faction, though at the end of the Geneva talks in February, the Government had pledged that no groups other than the Security Forces would be allowed to carry arms in Government-controlled areas. But it took little action by way of fulfilling this pledge. It is, consequently, doubtful that the new LTTE proposals will stir hopes of peace.
With questions hanging over the fate of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) after the Tigers protested the presence of monitors from the European Union, which recently put the LTTE on its list of terrorist organizations, indications are that there is little to stem the country’s rapid slide back to a major war. The Norwegians, whom the President once again is trying to bypass, convened a meeting on June 29, 2006, in Oslo to discuss the future of the SLMM. At the meeting the truce monitors decided not to give into the demands of the LTTE. In other words, the ceasefire monitoring operation is also stuck in a limbo.
a nutshell, the peace in Sri Lanka has been, and remains,
a deadly tool of war. This is the irony of the Sri Lankan
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
June 26 - July 2, 2006
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
Increased infiltration recorded in Jammu & Kashmir: The Union Government on June 29 said remedial measures, including synchronisation between various security forces, would soon be put in place as concerted efforts continued to usher in permanent peace in Jammu and Kashmir. A high-level meeting chaired by the Army Chief, Gen. J. J. Singh, and attended by heads of all Central paramilitary forces and intelligence agencies in New Delhi, took serious note of the terrorist infrastructure still intact across the Line of Control (LoC). The Home Secretary, Vinod Kumar Duggal, told reporters "Infiltration is slightly higher this year as compared to last year," adding, this year’s increase in infiltration by terrorists could be attributed to less snowfall and damage caused to the fencing along the LoC by the earthquake of October 8, 2005. A release issued by the Defence Ministry on the meeting said an analysis had revealed that infiltration usually went up in the summer months. This fell into an established pattern and "hence is not alarming". The release said, "new tactics being adopted by the terrorists came up for discussion and effective counter measures to take on this challenge along the LoC, the hinterland, terrorist hideouts and centres were formulated keeping in view the assessed modus operandi of the terrorists in future.” The release added, "Overall the security situation was assessed as fairly satisfactory and under control, with violence levels having come down in comparison with previous years." Daily Excelsior, June 29, 2006.
ULFA for direct talks with Union Government: United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), on July 1, expressed its willingness to hold ‘direct talks’ with the Union Government at the “earliest to solve the political problem” of Assam. ULFA Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, in a statement issued to a section of the local media in Guwahati, welcomed the third round of talks between the Government and the ULFA-backed Peoples’ Consultative Group (PCG). Rajkhowa said, “We hope that the assurance given by the Centre to hold direct talks with us becomes a reality soon.” The Assam Tribune, July 2, 2006.
Tackling insurgency in North East is more difficult than Jammu and Kashmir: The outgoing Director General (DG) of Assam Rifles, Lt. Gen Bhupinder Singh, said that counter insurgency operations in the Northeast region, especially in Manipur, are more difficult as compared to Jammu & Kashmir due to the topography of the region. Addressing a press conference in Shillong on June 28, the outgoing DG said that border areas in the region are rugged, which provided safe passage to the militants allowing them to move freely from one country to another. "The border in Jammu & Kashmir is well guarded and this very factor has contributed towards easing the work of the security force to tackle the problem of insurgency," he added. The Shillong Times, June 29, 2006.
Maoists refuse to lay down arms: Maoist leader Khil Nath Devkota, speaking on June 30 in Kathmandu, said that the Maoists will not lay down arms because the agreements reached with the Government have not been implemented in practice. He said, “Certain forces do not want peace to prevail in the county." He added that a "third force" does not want stability in Nepal. “All it wants is to continue supplying arms to Nepal. Similarly, some people are waiting for the peace process to end and they have even started predicting when the ceasefire will be broken. Even if a bit of wisdom, care and patience is lost, it will be unfortunate for the country," he warned. The Himalayan Times, July 1, 2006.
No additional troops for Pakistan - Afghanistan border: Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao clarified on June 30 that the Government would not deploy an additional 10,000 troops along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to supplement the current 78,000-strong troop level. Earlier, on June 27, at a joint press conference with United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri had said that Pakistan would deploy another 10,000 troops to dispel the impression that it is not doing enough against terrorism. Sherpao said that there was no need to increase troop levels since the current deployment was sufficient to guard the border and that troops had managed to counter militant activity, arresting 600 persons, including senior Al Qaeda operatives. Daily Times, July 1, 2006.
Army Deputy Chief killed in LTTE suicide attack in Colombo: A suicide bomber killed the Sri Lanka Army's (SLA) Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Parami Kulathunge, the third highest appointment in the SLA, at Pannipitiya, a suburb of capital Colombo, on June 26. The bomber rammed his motorcycle into the General’s car while he was on his way to work at Army Headquarters, killing the Major and three others, driver Sergeant Gomes, Corporal Buddika and a civilian. Eight persons were wounded in the explosion. Security forces have begun investigations into an anonymous call received by the Colombo National Hospital telephone operator, minutes before the suicide attack. The caller had said, "Today we are planning something big. Be ready…” Defence spokesperson and Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, condemning the assassination, said that the attack is a serious blow to the cease-fire, and added that the blast "carries the hallmark of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)". The Army also blamed the LTTE for the attack, though the outfit denied its involvement in the incident. Colombo Page, June 27, 2006.
12 LTTE cadres and five navy personnel killed at sea off Kalpitiya: At least 12 LTTE cadres and five Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) personnel were killed in the sea off Kalpitiya in Puttalam District on June 28. The Defence Ministry said six SLN inshore patrol crafts sighted and engaged 20 approaching LTTE boats, including suicide vessels, and destroyed two LTTE boats, killing 12 cadres of the outfit. Five SLN personnel were killed and three others sustained injuries in the fierce battle, which lasted for over an hour. Government spokesperson Rambulwella said that the LTTE had attacked two navy craft and destroyed one of them. However, the LTTE claimed that only one outfit cadre was killed and blamed the Navy for provoking the clash. The Hindu, June 29, 2006
LTTE regrets assassination of former Indian Primer Minister Rajiv Gandhi: The LTTE said that it deeply regretted the May 21, 1991, assassination of the former Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, and described it as a "monumental and historical tragedy." The outfit’s chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham stated, "As far as that event [Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination] is concerned, I would say it is a great tragedy, a monumental historical tragedy for which we deeply regret and we call upon the Government of India and the people of India to be magnanimous to put the past behind and to approach the ethnic question in a different perspective." He added that the outfit was prepared to build a new understanding with India provided New Delhi made a "positive gesture" towards it.
The Indian Government said forgiving LTTE for the killing of Rajiv Gandhi would amount to endorsing the LTTE ideology of terror. Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma told NDTV in response to Balasingham's comments, “The people of India cannot forget the dastardly crime that was committed by the LTTE… That would be tantamount to endorsing the philosophy of terror, violence and political assassination. It is easy for them to say ... India is for peace, stability and unity of Sri Lanka. We have been supportive of the peace process. We hope better sense will prevail and all issues in Sri Lanka will be resolved in a democratic manner.” He also ruled out any direct role for India in Sri Lanka's peace process. The Hindu, June 28, 2006.
Norway to continue its mediation efforts despite rising violence: Norway stated on June 26 that it would continue its mediation efforts in Sri Lanka despite the increasing violence in the country. Norway’s special peace envoy, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, said, “Norway remains committed to Sri Lanka, in good times and bad times, adding, there is no question of Norway pulling out… Our patience is almost unlimited but those who are impatient are the civilians.” The LTTE warned that Sri Lanka would descend into full-scale war if peace broker Norway quit. The outfit’s political wing leader, S. P. Tamilselvan, stated that war would be “unavoidable” if Norway pulled out after the June 29 crisis. He also said such a decision “would signal an end to the already fragile ceasefire and plunge the island into war.” Colombo Page, TamilNet, June 27, 2006.