Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sri Lanka says Tamil Tigers have links to al-Qaida+

Two senior officials of the Sri Lankan Defense Ministry said Friday the government has reason to believe that the Tamil Tigers have been in contact with other terrorist organizations in the region including al-Qaida.

"We have come across some persons of different nations in the region" during operations against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, ministry spokesman Kehelna Rambukwella told a briefing in which he was assisted by senior army officials and naval commanders.

The comprehensive briefing on "countering terrorism in Sri Lanka" was arranged for local and foreign reporters on the eve of a summit of eight South Asian nations, which is expected to be dominated by the member countries' concerns over the growing wave of terrorism in the region.

Rambukwella described the LTTE as "one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations" and called for cooperation among the regional countries in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation to fight the group.

"The whole SAARC region is impacted by terrorism. Some positive steps would be taken by the 15th SARRC summit," he said.

SAARC comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Afghanistan. Several of its members, particularly Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, are suffering from international and regional terrorist organizations.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai will be attending the summit for the first time since his country became a member of the SAARC.

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