Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Suicide Bombing Threatens Sri Lankan Peace Process ; Separatist Rebels Said Monday That They Are Ready to Resume Fighting against the Government

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Suicide Bombing Threatens Sri Lankan Peace Process ; Separatist Rebels Said Monday That They Are Ready to Resume Fighting against the Government

Article excerpt

A suicide bombing here that left the bomber and four policemen dead has raised serious doubts about peace efforts with separatist rebels.

The attack last week - at a police station next to the prime minister's official residence - was the first suicide bombing since the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) signed a cease-fire agreement in 2002.

The Tamil Tigers denied any involvement, claiming that the attack was an effort to discredit them and derail the peace process. But few believe this argument, pointing to the fact that the Tigers are the only organization in the country that has carried out suicide attacks.

The blast has shaken the confidence of Sri Lankans in the Norwegian-brokered peace process and brought into question the LTTE's commitment to find a political solution to the 20-year ethnic conflict that has claimed nearly 70,000 lives.

Some analysts say the government and the majority Sinhala community suspect that the LTTE, frustrated by lack of progress in peace talks, is trying to free itself of the cease-fire's constraints.

But the Tigers say that they are keen to hold talks and discuss a proposal of interim self-governance. They argue that the Sri Lankan armed forces are undermining the cease-fire agreement by providing shelter to renegade rebel leader Colonel Karuna, who broke from the Tigers in March.

"I don't think they are keen on breaking the cease-fire," says Pakiyasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Center for Policy Alternatives here. "At the same time, they are also keen to be able to show that they will not be totally silent and unresponsive to what they consider to be provocations."

The female suicide bomber was initially caught while she was trying to meet a senior minister and leader of a Tamil political party, the Eelam People's Democratic Party, Douglas Devananda, in his office. Mr. Devananda, who has survived a dozen attempts on his life, has been encouraging the rebel Karuna to join politics.

"We cannot achieve anything without being in the political mainstream," says Devananda in an interview. "The armed struggle has only brought misery to Tamils."

The woman detonated her bomb as she was brought into the police station. …

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