Sri Lanka. Visit Countryaah official website to get information about the capital city of Sri Lanka. The fighting between the army and the Tamil guerrilla Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) continued throughout the year and intensified towards the fall, with major losses on both sides. Just since the war flared up again in 1995, after a short break, 22,000 people have been killed, including 2,000 civilians. In early November, the army was hit by its perhaps most severe hardship during the war, when the LTTE briefly occupied ten important northern locations, including several military bases. The setback led to the replacement of several senior military leaders.
After the ruling People’s Alliance won in several provincial elections, but with reduced support, President Chandrika Kumaratunga announced the new election to the December 21 presidential post. Assessors believed that through her own renewed mandate, she hoped to strengthen the government ahead of the 2000 parliamentary elections. The government seemed to lose popularity because the promise of peace had not been fulfilled.
Three days before the election, 21 people were killed in Colombo at Kumaratunga’s last general election. An explosive charge was triggered by a female suicide bomber who was believed to be an LTTE supporter. The president escaped with minor injuries. The same night, twelve people were killed in one of the capital’s suburbs in a similar attack at an election meeting with opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. Despite the attacks, the election was held, and Kumaratunga was re-elected with 51% of the vote against just under 43% for Wickremesinghe.
In February 1996, an attack was made against the National Bank in the center of Colombia, killing 200 and injuring 1,400. It created fears of a total war between the two ethnic groups in the country. Meanwhile, the LTTE’s attacks continued on the trains and in the streets of Colombia.
In early 1997, the Tigers destroyed a government garrison in Paranthan in the north of the country, killing all the soldiers present – about 1,200 men. The government again responded with extensive air and ground attacks, costing the LTTE significant losses.
In May, the government yeast put 20,000 soldiers into the largest offensive so far since the start of the war. The offensive enabled the government armies to take strategic positions and roads, and penetrate the guerrilla into the jungle. The LTTE again responded with bomb attacks against the country’s main tourist centers.
The government offensive had consequences for international rice prices, as a large part of the rice fields in the north were destroyed. The country now had to import rice to meet its needs. The conflict also worsened the social situation in the country. According to UN information, about two-thirds of the country’s prostitutes were minors.
The government offered to halt its military offensive and discuss proposals for increased autonomy for the regional councils administered by Tamils and Muslims, but at the same time it condoned LTTE’s surrender, which the guerrilla considered unacceptable. In April, the government and the main opposition party UNP agreed on a common negotiating front in any negotiations with the LTTE.
Despite mediation efforts, the civil war in March 1998 worsened with dozens of people killed on both sides. In April, the government agreed to publish the results of investigations into around 700 disappearances in Jaffna in the north of the country. The number of people killed since the start of the civil war was now estimated at 50,000.
The government army carried out a major offensive in December, forcing the LTTE to retreat to more remote areas and to abandon more cities in the northern part of the country.
In the last quarter of 1999, clashes between the government army and the Tamil guerrilla took place. In November, the LTTE gained control of the important city of Oddusudan, which had had to give up the previous year due to the government’s offensive.
Just 4 days after surviving an assassination attempt, President Chandrika Kumaratunga succeeded in being re-elected for a new term as she gained 8% more votes than her main counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe from SK. The high turnout – 70% of the 11½ million eligible voters – surprised political observers who expected more to abstain as a result of the LTTE offensive that had cost 33 lives and 130 wounded – including Kumaratunga himself.
Both the president and Wickremesinghe promised during the election campaign to halt the 16 years of civil war in the country that had so far killed 60,000 people. Tamil voters had voted in Kamaratunga in 1994, which helped to give her absolute majority. This time, however, they followed LTTE’s call to vote for Wickremesinghe.
In March 2000, Kumaratunga and Wickremesinghe met to discuss a possible agreement that could end the ethnic conflict. While negotiations were underway, after 12 hours of fighting, the LTTE captured an important government position on the Jaffna Peninsula.
The LTTE openly rejected the government’s peace proposal but declared its readiness to enter into negotiations if Norway would make itself available as a broker. However, the political leaders in Sri Lanka were of the opinion that a comprehensive agreement was needed among the most important political forces in the country for the revision of the constitution before negotiations with the Tamil rebels could be initiated.
In mid-April, the Tigers embarked on a new offensive, and by early May they had occupied virtually the entire Jaffna Peninsula. The low morale of the government forces was a major cause of the repeated peninsula peninsula, which in turn is the base area for the Tamil tigers who perceive the area as theirs and as the center of a future independent state.