Sri Lanka must strengthen its intelligence-gathering to stop Tamil Tiger rebels regrouping abroad a year after they were defeated, a top defence official says.


Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, who is President Mahinda Rajapakse’s younger brother, said Tiger sympathisers outside the country were trying to revive the Tamil separatist movement.

“The security forces, police and intelligence services must take certain steps to ensure that terrorism does not raise its head again in this country,” he said.

‘Enhanced’ intelligence

“Our intelligence networks have to be developed and intelligence gathering enhanced.”

He said the navy must also strengthen its coastal patrols to ensure weapons were not smuggled in by sea. At the height of their power, the Tigers had both air and sea capability, and controlled a third of the island.

Gotabhaya said although the Tigers had not carried out any attacks since the group’s leadership was wiped out a year ago this week, the pro-rebel lobby abroad was still active.

“The motive of these international groups remain the same as that of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam),” he said in a statement marking the first anniversary of the crushing of the guerrillas after 37 years of violence.

State of emergency continues

Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict was estimated to have claimed up to 100,000 lives, according to the United Nations, which also said that about 7,000 civilians perished in the final phase of fighting last year.

Sri Lanka is still under a state of emergency which was first imposed in 1983 to deal with Tamil rebels. However, some of the provisions of the tough law were eased earlier this month.

The government is facing increasing international pressure to probe alleged war crimes, but Colombo has said that no civilian was killed by its security forces.