It is with shock and dismay that we note yesterday`s dastardly terror attack in Batticaloa, where shells fired by the LTTE fell near two helicopters, injuring some foreign ambassadors who were on their way to a meeting on government invitation to discuss ways and means of resettling the war displaced.
The LTTE has, true to form, trotted out a lame excuse. It says it was unaware of the presence of the foreign envoys and insists that it should have been informed of their arrival. The LTTE must go tell that to the marines. The entire Batticaloa knew the ambassadors were coming and arrangements had been made to receive them. (We thought most embassies in Colombo were in touch with the LTTE and kept it informed of the trips their bosses made to the conflict zone. Some ambassadors even meet the LTTE every so often, don`t they?) On the other hand, it was only a few days ago that the LTTE shelled the Brigade Headquarters in Jaffna, while a high level meeting was on. That meeting had kicked off one hour behind the schedule but the LTTE was aware of that delay as well! Therefore, that the LTTE didn`t know about the participation of foreign ambassadors at yesterday`s meeting is only balderdash!
The LTTE would have launched yesterday`s attack anyway. Love and terrorism are poles apart but they have one thing in common. Both are blind. Perpetrators of terror are blind to the consequences of their action. On May 11 last year, the SLMM duly informed the LTTE of the presence of its members aboard a troop carrier ferrying unarmed soldiers. The LTTE still tried to ram the ship with suicide boats! A few months after the signing of the CFA, the outfit blew up an arms smuggling trawler intercepted by the Navy with the SLMM members on board! It is no respecter of anyone. Remember, it almost succeeded in assassinating the Pakistani High Commissioner in a vehicle bomb attack in Colombo last year. Prabhakran doesn`t give a damn about the price he has to pay for his terror and therefore doesn`t baulk at harming anyone. How he got Rajiv Gandhi assassinated on Indian soil is a case in point. Whoever thought he would do something like that?
One man`s terrorism is another man`s heroism. Attempts are being made in some quarters to use yesterday`s incident to pooh-pooh the battlefield success of the military during the past few months in the East rather than condemn the cowardly act of terror. The question they ask is: If the East has been secured, how is it that such attacks are taking place? That there is no place on this planet, which is not prone to terror attacks, matters little to them. Terrorists, they need to be told, are capable of striking anywhere ? even in London and Washington. So, how can Batticaloa be from shell attacks from miles away?
US Ambassador Robert O Blake, who was among the foreign dignitaries who visited Batticaloa yesterday, was quoted by IANS on Sunday as saying, `The LTTE has significant capability to attack, using terrorist means. We should not underestimate that.` Mr. Blake stands vindicated! But, there is something that shouldn`t be forgotten: Unless the LTTE`s military muscle had been weakened and its arms smuggling operations thwarted, yesterday`s drama would have had a tragic ending. What made the LTTE use indirect weapons to launch that attack was its failure to have acquired surface to air missiles to destroy aircraft. Else, it would have downed the flying machines that carried ambassadors, before they safely landed, like pumpkins from the heaven. The US made no small contribution to preventing the LTTE from acquiring missiles. It busted an LTTE weapons procurement ring by arresting a group of emissaries in New York, a few months ago, while they were shopping for an assortment of weapons including surface to air missiles in the black market. The effective naval blockade off the North and the East has also yielded intended results, if the LTTE`s arms shortage and its desperate bid to procure weapons are any indication.
What a song and dance was made in some quarters when an Air Force jet flew over the LTTE Peace Secretariat some time ago, while a foreign Ambassador was having a meeting there. Now that a group of ambassadors has had a narrow escape from an LTTE attack, it will be interesting to see the reaction of the international community. Will the LTTE go Scot free yet another time?