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Key Tamil Rebel Group Agrees to End Sri Lanka Hostilities

June 29, 1989|From United Press International

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — The Sri Lankan government announced Wednesday that it has reached agreement with the most powerful Tamil guerrilla group to end all hostilities, the first such accord in six years of civil war.

The government said that Anton Balasingham, the leader of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who has been negotiating with authorities, agreed to convert an eight-week-old truce into a permanent end to hostilities.

"The government will end all hostilities against the (Liberation Tigers) in the future," said a government statement quoting Cabinet minister Shahul Hameed, who negotiated the accord with Balasingham.

"From now on they will not fight us," a senior government source said. "Earlier, we had agreed not to fight each other for the limited purpose of holding talks. Now they will not oppose us permanently."

The two sides will resolve Tamil demands for an independent nation and other differences through negotiations, government officials said.

It was the first such accord reported since rebels from the minority Hindu Tamil community began a violent campaign in 1983 for independence for the Tamil-dominated north and east of the Indian Ocean island nation, where Sinhalese Buddhists are in the majority.

The government still is fighting an insurgency by Sinhalese angered by the presence of Indian peacekeeping troops and by government concessions to the Tamils.

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