Patterns of Global Terrorism 1999 - Sri Lanka

The separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which the United States has designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization, maintained a high level of violence in 1999, conducting numerous attacks on government, police, civilian, and military targets. President Chandrika Kumaratunga narrowly escaped an LTTE assassination attempt in December. The group's suicide bombers assassinated moderate Tamil politician Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam in July and killed 34 bystanders at election rallies in December. LTTE gunmen murdered a Tamil Member of Parliament from Jaffna representing the Eelam People's Democratic Party and the leader of a Tamil military unit supporting the Sri Lankan Army.

Over the year, LTTE attacks against police officers killed 50 and wounded 77. Bombings of buses, trains, and bus terminals in March, April, and September killed four persons and injured more than 80, and Sri Lankan authorities attributed several bombings of telecommunications and power facilities to the LTTE. In July an LTTE suicide diver bombed a civilian passenger ferry while it was in Trincomalee port, and the group's Sea Tigers naval wing attacked a Chinese vessel that had come too close to the Sri Lankan coastline. The LTTE allegedly massacred more than 50 civilians in September, apparently retaliating against a Sri Lankan Air Force bombing that killed 21 Tamil civilians. The LTTE is suspected in the shooting death in Jaffna of a regional military commander for the progovernment People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and may be responsible for bombings at a PLOTE office and a camp in Vavuniya that killed three and injured seven.

LTTE activity against the Sri Lankan Government centered on the continuing war in the north. The Sri Lankan military's offensive to open and secure a ground supply route through LTTE-held territory suffered a major defeat when the LTTE fought a series of intense battles in early November and regained control of nearly all land the government had captured in the past two years. The battles resulted in thousands of casualties on both sides.

There were no confirmed cases of LTTE or other terrorist groups targeting US citizens or businesses in Sri Lanka in 1999. Nonetheless, the Sri Lankan Government was quick to cooperate with US requests to enhance security for US personnel and facilities and cooperated fully with US officials investigating possible violations of US law by international terrorist organizations. Battlefield requirements forced Sri Lankan security forces to cancel their participation in a senior crisis management seminar under the Department of State's Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program in 1999.


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