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Terrorism & Security

Sri Lanka bombings move toward capital

The Army has blamed Tamil Tiger separatist rebels for recent attacks, which have targeted civilians near Colombo.

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Agence France-Presse notes that the attacks in Colombo have each closely followed similar attacks against civilians within the northern territory held by the Tamil Tigers.

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Each of the attacks came after the LTTE complained that government commandos, who operate in small groups known as "deep penetration units", have killed civilians in roadside bombings inside Sri Lanka's rebel-held north.
The LTTE said two civilians were killed late Thursday by a roadside mine in the north by an army unit, and that six civilians died in a similar attack on Monday night.
Last month, the rebels accused government commandos of killing 19 people in mine attacks.
Sri Lanka's military refuses to comment on its covert operations in the north.

CBC News reports that more than 200 civilians in both government and rebel-held territory have died this year, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Bloomberg writes that the exchange of attacks against civilian targets is only hardening the hostilities in the conflict.

"This is a regular pattern of both parties allegedly targeting civilians. There is an element of tit-for-tat," Jehan Perera, director of the National Peace Council, a Sri Lankan non-governmental advocacy organization, said by telephone today from Colombo. "It also represents how in an escalating internal war, anyone can become a target. It is part of a larger psychological warfare."
Such attacks "harden feelings," he said. "So there is no chance that the two parties will return to the negotiating table."

The ongoing attacks have also resulted in increased scrutiny of the press, and in response the Sri Lankan government lashed out Thursday against what it says is irresponsible media analysis, reports the BBC.

The statement [by the Sri Lankan Defense Ministry] says that those who undermine public support for that mission by making false allegations give aid to the terrorists.
According to the ministry, only military officers are qualified to analyse military matters and it attacks "doomsayers and reporters who write inane comments."
It says that "traitors" in the press will be exposed.

The BBC writes that press-freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders condemned the statement as "very threatening." The BBC notes that one Sri Lankan commentator on the conflict was recently abducted and beaten under unexplained circumstances, while another recently stopped writing his weekly column.

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