- Published on Thursday, 22 March 2012 19:52
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There were thousands of LTTE cadres still at large with caches of arms and explosives dumps hidden in the former war zone and, therefore, the threat of terrorism persisted to some extent, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said.
Speaking to heads of media institutions and newspaper editors yesterday at the Defence Ministry yesterday, the Defence Secretary said some people mistakenly believed that simply because the LTTE had been defeated and Prabhakaran killed, terrorism was over. Several attempts to revive the LTTE since the conclusion of the war had been foiled, he said.
However, people should not panic as the situation was under control and the security forces were ready to meet any eventuality, the Defence Secretary said.
About 11,000 LTTE cadres who either surrendered to the security forces or were captured during the war had been rehabilitated and reunited with their families and about 3,800 out of 4,000 LTTE detainees had been released; about 4,000 LTTE members who had escaped were still at large, the Defence Secretary said.
The government had lifted Emergency and done away with high security zones and checkpoints in spite of security risks. Anyone could travel to and from the former war zone without undergoing checks. The houses taken over by the military had been handed over to their owners, he said.
There were no armed groups other than the members of the security forces in the North and the crime rate in that part of the country was much lower than that in other areas, the Defence Secretary said. "We have information that about 20,000 Sri Lankan expatriates have visited those areas since the end of the war."
Commenting on the allegation that the military targeted no-fire zones after asking civilians to move there, the Defence Secretary said the government had not declared separate areas as no-fire zones. The places where the LTTE forcibly took civilians as a human shield had been designated as such. He said the LTTE had prevented the people from moving into the army-held areas and neither the UN nor the NGOs that were levelling unsubstantiated war crimes charges against the military and the government had asked the LTTE to let go of civilians without exposing them to danger.
Commenting on Indo-Lanka relations the Defence Secretary said Sri Lanka's ties with India will remain cordial as they have been at all times.
"We have to understand the domestic political compulsions for the Indian government," he said referring to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement in Lok Sabha that India was "inclined" to support the resolution.