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World condemns Kadirgamar slaying, backs ceasefire

The Liberation Tigers Saturday strongly denied involvement in the assassination Friday of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and, condemning the rush to blame the LTTE, urged the Sri Lankan government to conduct “a thorough investigation.”

“We strongly condemn this attempt to put the blame on us and we strongly deny any involvement in this assassination,” Mr. S. P. Tamilselvan, head of the LTTE’s political wing, told the BBC’s Tamil Service.

Urging Colombo to conduct a thorough investigation to identify the assassins, Mr. Tamilselvan told TamilNet, “We also know that there are sections within the Sri Lankan Armed forces operating with a hidden agenda to sabotage the ceasefire agreement.”

Mr. Tamilselvan further said that Colombo, ridden with internal rifts and power struggles, should look inwards for culprits of the assassination. He added that there is a growing trend in the South to blame the Liberation Tigers for all killings.

'Kadirgamar was felled by political foes opposed to the peaceful transformation of conflict, and a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict' - President Kumaratunga

Mr. Kadirgamar was shot by a sniper outside his tightly guarded home in one of Colombo’s high security zones on Friday and died in hospital after emergency surgery.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga declared a state of emergency Saturday and appealed “for calm and restraint in the face of this grave and cowardly attack.”

“A state of national emergency has been declared to facilitate enhanced security measures and effective investigations of this act of wanton terror,” the president’s office said in a statement.

Notably, however, President Kumaratunga did not name the LTTE in connection with the killing, saying instead that “Kadirgamar was felled by political foes opposed to the peaceful transformation of conflict and who were determined to undermine attempts towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict.”

Other governments Saturday joined the prompt reactions by the United States and the United Nations in condemning the killing as an act of terror, but urging Sri Lankans to keep calm and not let the slaying drag the island back into civil war.

And the Sri Lankan government said Saturday it will not take any unilateral action that will amount to violating the ceasefire, but pledged to take precautions to safeguard its citizens against terrorists’ attacks, the Associated Press reported.

Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Petersen described the assassination as “a gruesome deed, which is deeply tragic for Sri Lanka.”

Noting that “killing puts the peace process in Sri Lanka to a serious test,” Mr. Petersen said: “It is now of great importance that both parties to the conflict do their utmost to fully fulfil their obligations according to the cease-fire agreement.”

‘Both parties to the conflict do their utmost to fully fulfil their obligations according to the cease-fire agreement’ - Norway

European Union Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero Waldner said the killing was an attempt to deprive Sri Lankans of peace and prosperity by derailing the peace process.

“I see the clear intention of the killers is to restart the conflict,” he said.

“Japan has been actively supporting the peace process in Sri Lanka and has respected Foreign Minister Kadirgamar as one of the key persons promoting the process,” Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said.

“I strongly hope for a calm response by all parties at this moment so that the move towards the peace process is not hindered,” he added.

“This heinous act of terrorism must not be allowed to derail efforts to bring peace,” said Australia’s Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

Shortly after Kadirgamar’s death, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice condemned the assassination as a “senseless murder and vicious act of terror” and also urged Sri Lankans to support the peace process.

“Together, we must honor his memory by rededicating ourselves to peace and ensuring that the cease-fire remains in force,” Rice said in a statement.

A spokesman for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said “he deplores in the strongest of terms this criminal and senseless act.”

“The secretary-general hopes that this tragedy will not weaken the commitment of the people of Sri Lanka to achieve a durable peace in the country,” a UN statement said.

India strongly condemned Kadirgamar's assassination, describing it as a "heinous act" of terrorism by those seeking to undermine the Island nation's unity and political stability.

Maintaining that India's support for unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka remained "constant and undiluted", a spokesman said New Delhi "will always extend its full support to the friendly neighbour in its hour of need."

Asked if his government will honour the Norwegian-brokered 2002 ceasefire with the Liberation Tigers, Harim Peiris, a spokesman for President Chandrika Kumaratunga said: “no instruction contrary to the existing order to maintain the cease-fire has been given.”

Ironically, Kadirgamar himself was a critic of the Norwegian-led peace process, questioning Oslo’s impartiality and frequently protesting what he perceived as slights to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty - the state-owned Daily News mourned him on Saturday as “a man who stood for peace, unity and the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.”

But a senior politician from the coalition of Sri Lanka’s largest Tamil parties said Kadirgamar, himself a Tamil, was considered a traitor.

“His acts were considered to be treacherous towards the Tamils from the very beginning,” M.K. Sivajilingam, a MP for the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), told Reuters.

‘The clear intention of the killers is to restart the conflict’ - EU

Kadirgamar led an international campaign to ban the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist organization and the LTTE are on terrorist lists in the United States, Britain and India.

One Indian columnist noted Saturday, “few Sinhalese expected a Tamil to pursue this objective with such devotion and energy.”

Meanwhile police said Saturday possibly two people were involved in the asassination. Mr. Kadirgamar. was about to enter his house at about 11pm after a swim in his pool when the assailants fired four high powered rounds into his head, neck and chest, reports said.

Police told TamilNet they believed that the sniper had used an 8.3 mm gun with attached night zoom vision. A grenade-launcher with 8 shells was recovered from behind a bush in the neighbourhood later.

The owners of a house near Mr. Kadirgamar’s residence in the top of which the sniper had taken up position have been arrested.

The attackers could not have escaped far away from Colombo, according to the Inspector General of Police Mr. Chandra Fernando.

He added that special police teams and the members of the armed forces have been deployed in Colombo and suburbs to apprehend the assassins. More than a thousand security personnel are continuing search operations in Colombo’s Wellawatte, Bambalapitya and Kirillapone areas.

Sri Lanka tense after sniper kills Kadirgamar [August 13, 2005]

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