Tuesday, October 17, 2006

SL Air Force bombs LTTE radio station

PK Balachandran
Colombo, October 17, 2006

The Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) on Tuesday destroyed the LTTE's radio
station called Voice of Tigers (VOT), which broadcasts Tamil and
Sinhala programmes daily, and carries Supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran's annual
Hero's Day oration on November 27.
After visiting the wreckage in Kokkavil, 15 km south of the LTTE
headquarters at Kilinochchi, the Head of the Political Wing SP
Tamilselvan said that it was an assault on the freedom of expression.
"It is part of a planned agenda to suppress the freedom of expression
prior to the talks scheduled in Geneva," the pro-LTTE Tamilnet website quoted
Tamilselvan as saying.
The aerial attack occurred at 9.30 am. Bombs and cannon fire hit the
station and the 500 ft transmission tower 25 times. The radio station had lost SLRs 30 million (INR 15 million) worth of equipment as a result. The damaged equipment included two vehicles and power generator. Two staff members were injured.
Tamilnet however said that the VOT did not stop its broadcasts!
The Sri Lankan Military did not report the incident. All that the National Security Media Unit said was that the Air Force attacked two LTTE naval bases in Mullaitivu and a military camp in Mankulam with great accuracy.

Will Prabhakaran broadcast his Hero's Day speech?

The LTTE radio station might have been attacked to prevent Prabhakaran
from making his Hero's Day speech where he takes stock of the political and
military situation and outlines the LTTE's plans for the future.
The VOT station had been licensed by the Sri Lankan government after
the peace process was initiated in February 2002. This was done with the active involvement of the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Norwegian peace broker Erik Solheim, for whom this was a way of bringing the LTTE into the Sri Lankan legal system and mainstream.
But the measure was attacked vehemently by the then Sri Lankan
President Chandrika Kumaratunga and the Sinhala and English media as appeasement
of terrorists.

Alokesh Gupta
New Delhi