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Sri Lanka Opposition Rejects Government Peace Plan

July 15, 1986|From Reuters

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — The main opposition party Monday rejected a government-proposed plan to end the island's bloody ethnic conflict.

The decision by the Freedom Party not to support the plan came as President Junius R. Jayewardene prepared for a second round of discussions here with moderate Tamil politicians.

In the continuing violence, a military spokesman said Monday that 18 guerrillas fighting for an independent Tamil state and six soldiers were killed in a clash Sunday in the northwest fishing district of Mannar.

The soldiers died while attempting to defuse a land mine planted by Tamil guerrillas.

11 Villagers Gunned Down

Another group of separatists fired indiscriminately while driving through Pavatkulama in northern Vavuniya district Sunday night, killing 11 villagers--nine Tamils and two Sinhalese.

More than 4,000 people have been killed in clashes between majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils since unrest began sweeping the island about three years ago.

An official of the Freedom Party, led by former Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike, said the party is writing Jayewardene to give its reasons for opposing the plan, which envisages devolving power to elected provincial councils to be set up in the island's nine provinces.

Limited Autonomy

Government spokesmen have said provincial councils would be given limited autonomy, enabling Tamils to see to their own affairs in the northern and eastern areas of the island where they mostly live.

Jayewardene and the moderate Tamil United Liberation Front met Sunday for 2 1/2 hours, and a front official said afterwards it was agreed that no statement would be given to the press.

Five major guerrilla groups that are fighting government troops in northern and eastern areas Sunday denounced the talks and held a six-mile march in their northern stronghold of Jaffna to denounce the peace plan, residents said.

In New Delhi, Indian officials were unable to persuade the guerrilla leaders to accept Jayewardene's proposals as a basis for settlement, Indian Foreign Secretary A.P. Venkatewran said.

India is mediating between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil leaders, all headquartered in the south India city of Madras.

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