‘Tigers plan to kill president’

  • AseanPlus News
  • Thursday, 21 Aug 2003

COLOMBO: President Chandrika Kumaratunga's office claimed yesterday that Tamil Tiger rebel suicide squads had infiltrated Sri Lanka's capital and were planning to kill her. 

“They (rebels) have carried out surveillance and we have very credible information that they are now planning to assassinate the president,'' Kumaratunga's spokesman, Harim Peiris, told reporters.  

Kumaratunga escaped a rebel assassination attempt in 1999 with injuries, including a lost eye, in a suicide attack that killed at least 19 people. 

She opposes the granting of wide concessions to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and also holds reservations about a ceasefire agreement, signed by her main political rival, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the Tigers in February 2002. 

“Our information suggest that the LTTE's Black Tigers have infiltrated into the capital and are ready,'' Peiris said. 

Black Tigers are the rebels' suicide fighters, blamed for the deaths in past years of former Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premedasa and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. 

Peiris said security for Kumaratunga had been strengthened. 

“We have information that some LTTE cadres stayed in a hotel near the president's house and carried out surveillance,'' Peiris said. 

Under the ceasefire agreement, rebels can enter government-controlled territory unarmed. 

There was no immediate comment from the rebels, who have left the peace process in limbo since pulling out of talks with the government in April. 

Kumaratunga is guarded by Presidential Security Division, made up of 1,000 men and women. 

Kumaratunga, 57, rarely comes out of her well-fortified home here.  

As president, she holds extensive executive powers as well as ultimate control of the Sri Lankan military. 

However, her party is now in opposition after it was kicked out of government at parliamentary elections in December 2000. 

That poll was won by Wickremesinghe's party on a promise to work towards peace through negotiation with the Tigers rather than using military force to crush them. 

Kumaratunga's term as head of state ends in 2005. – AP 

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