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Cease-Fire Holding in Sri Lanka; Rebel Chief May Go to India for Talks

November 22, 1987|Associated Press

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — A cease-fire took hold in northern Sri Lanka on Saturday amid reports that Velupillai Prabhakaran, chief of the dominant Tamil rebel militia, would travel to India for talks on a permanent peace.

No incidents involving Tamil separatist rebels were reported after India unilaterally commenced the 48-hour cease-fire at 7 a.m.

Shoppers in the northern Jaffna Peninsula turned out in force to buy food being trucked in to end a lengthy shortage.

However, officials said an Indian soldier, apparently burdened by troubles from home, went berserk in the eastern port of Trincomalee and shot two people to death. Four civilians were wounded, they said.

An official at the Indian High Commission said the soldier apparently lost control after receiving "bad news from India."

The official said the soldier was disarmed after he started shooting wildly while on foot patrol in the town 150 miles northeast of Colombo.

India launched a 16-day offensive after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the dominant rebel group, rejected a New Delhi-brokered peace accord and refused to surrender their weapons.

The accord, signed July 29, seeks to end a four-year-old civil war by Tamil guerrillas for an independent homeland by offering them limited autonomy in this island nation. India, with a big Tamil population of its own, sent peacekeeping troops to enforce the agreement.

In India on Saturday, a senior Tamil politician said Tiger leader Prabhakaran was expected in India "within a couple of days" for talks on the peace pact and a possible end of hostilities.

The politician, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Prabhakaran would be flown to Madras from Sri Lanka on an Indian air force plane and would later visit New Delhi.

Madras is the capital of India's Tamil Nadu state.

The United News of India said Prabhakaran released an eight-page statement in Madras on Saturday, saying the Tigers were prepared to turn over their arms "if the Indian government gave an assurance that it would settle the ethnic problem amicably and provide adequate protection to the Tamils."

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