Sri Lanka Army Chief Vows to Wipe Out Terrorism
Sri Lanka's army chief Lionel Balagalle has vowed to "eradicate terrorism" in the New Year as his troops consolidated their forces in areas newly captured from Tamil Tiger rebels, a state-run newspaper said Tuesday.
The army chief in a message to his 120,000 strong force said the "road to peace" will be opened by defeating the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) guerrillas in the island's northeast.
"We are determined to take every possible step to completely eliminate and uproot the curse of terrorism in this New Year," Balagalle was quoted as saying in the state-run Daily News.
Earlier, he had described the military's latest gains in the northern peninsula of Jaffna as a New Year gift to the nation.
Government forces claimed to have retaken several areas of the peninsula lost to advancing Tiger rebels in April and May last year.
The rebels are observing a unilateral one-month truce till January 24 and said the move was aimed at reviving a Norwegian-backed peace bid to bring the government and the Tigers to the negotiating table.
The Sri Lankan government says any de-escalation of the conflict can be done as talks progress.
More than 60,000 people have been killed in the island's drawn-out Tamil separatist conflict in the past two decades -- COLOMBO (AFP)
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