May 15, 2000 |
As the Sri Lankan army reels before an onslaught of rebel fighters, the people urging it to fight harder are the men in the saffron robes. Sri Lanka's Buddhist clergy, long an influential force in national politics, are stepping forward to rally the nation in its darkest hour. The string of defeats suffered by the army at the hands of separatist rebels, which has stunned and demoralized this island nation, has also drawn the monks out of their temples to try to hold the country together.
May 13, 2000 |
Tamil Tiger rebels rolled into the city of Jaffna on Friday, forcing government troops to retreat and marking a tenuous but dramatic victory in this island nation's long civil war. Troops with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, fighting for an independent state for minority Tamils since 1983, entered their cultural capital and met little resistance from government soldiers.
May 12, 2000 |
Tamil Tiger rebels said Thursday that they were closing in on Jaffna, while Sri Lankan jets stepped up bombing sorties on guerrilla positions. "Sri Lankan soldiers! You are occupying our land," Voice of Tigers rebel radio broadcast. "Our cadres are advancing. We will capture Jaffna. You must surrender or withdraw." The broadcast, monitored in the northern town of Vavuniya, said the rebels had captured Kolombuthurai and Maniyathotam, barely half a mile from Jaffna.
May 11, 2000 |
Led by waves of suicide bombers, Tamil Tiger guerrillas in Sri Lanka reached the gates of Jaffna on Wednesday, squeezing thousands of government troops and setting the stage for a climactic battle in the country's long civil war. The rebels, who are seeking an independent homeland, claimed to have captured an important bridge that is within artillery range of the government's Palali air base near Jaffna.
May 10, 2000 |
A day after the Sri Lankan government rejected a temporary cease-fire offer from separatist rebels, Tamil Tiger forces attacked troops defending the northern Jaffna peninsula. It was the first fighting there in nine days. The Parliament also extended emergency rule for another month, giving the military sweeping powers to seize property, ban publications and rallies and make arrests.
May 9, 2000 |
Sri Lanka's leaders spurned a cease-fire offer Monday that would have allowed them to evacuate thousands of government troops under siege by separatist guerrillas on the Indian Ocean island. The rejection came hours after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who are battling for a separate homeland, proposed a halt in the fighting to allow Sri Lankan troops to retreat from the city of Jaffna with "dignity and honor."
May 7, 2000 |
The government said Tamil Tiger rebels were raining artillery and mortar fire on troops Saturday as the military strengthened defenses to beat back an advance by the guerrillas on the northern Jaffna peninsula. A government statement said the air force had bombed rebel positions north and south of Elephant Pass, the peninsula's gateway that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam overran last month. It said troops also fired long-range mortars while patrols went out ahead of the defense lines.
May 6, 2000 |
Thousands of Sri Lankan troops fanned out Friday to defend their hold on the former rebel capital, a day after the government imposed censorship on foreign media and gave the military wide powers to help fight Tamil insurgents. The government's Information Department said the military successfully repulsed several rebel attempts to breach the defense line. Ariya Rubasinghe, director of information, said two soldiers were killed and one wounded in the latest fighting.
May 5, 2000 |
A stunning string of victories by Sri Lanka's Tamil rebels appears to have brought Asia's longest-running war to a decisive moment. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a ruthless guerrilla army fighting for independence for a portion of the island nation, are on the brink of the biggest triumph in their 17-year struggle.
May 4, 2000 |
With Tamil rebels advancing along the northern peninsula and neighbor India refusing military help, Sri Lanka said Wednesday that it was shifting to war status. The Cabinet suspended all non-urgent development projects for three months, saying funding would be diverted to the war effort if needed. "The Cabinet decided to put the country on a war footing . . . immediately," Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.