`US, Norway-based Tamil rebels trying to regroup`

Sri Lanka PM told lawmakers two rebel leaders in the US and Norway were reorganising the LTTE.

Colombo: Tamil rebel leaders based in the United States and Norway are trying to revive their defeated separatist movement, Sri Lanka`s Prime Minister told Parliament on Tuesday.

Premier DM Jayaratne`s statements came during a debate to extend a state of emergency giving sweeping powers to police and armed forces to arrest and detain suspects for
long periods without trial.

Jayaratne told lawmakers two rebel leaders in the United States and Norway were reorganising the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which Colombo said was defeated in May last year following a major military offensive.

"These two individuals are engaged in organising Tiger intelligence units and armed cadres in order to revive the LTTE and resurrect their campaign for a separate state in Sri
Lanka," the premier said.

Jayaratne did not identify the individuals concerned.

Sri Lanka has resisted international calls to end emergency laws, arguing that rebel remnants are trying to reassemble.

The top Tiger leadership in the island was wiped out when troops crushed the rebels in the military offensive.

Since then there have been no attacks blamed on Tigers, but the government has said it continues to arrest suspected rebels mingling with ethnic Tamil civilians
displaced during last year`s fighting.

The emergency law is routinely approved by parliament which is dominated by the ruling party.

The premier also said security forces had recently seized explosives-filled jackets usually worn by Tiger rebels to carry out suicide assassinations.

He gave no details of the discovery, but said security forces have uncovered plans by surviving rebel cadres to mount a fresh challenge to security forces.

The United Nations estimates that up to 100,000 people died in the ethnic conflict which lasted from 1972 until 2009.

The opposition accuses the government of using emergency laws to stifle political dissent and the media, charges denied by the authorities.


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