Friday, January 23, 2009

Sri Lanka presses rebels, but at a mounting cost

By Somini Sengupta

(HT)NEW DELHI: As a potent military offensive by the Sri Lankan government whittles away one of the world's shrewdest and most well-armed ethnic separatist armies, the cost of war is mounting, press freedom is shriveling and the political endgame remains as elusive as ever.

Over the past several months, the army has trounced the feared Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the country's north, wresting control of rebel bunkers, office buildings and airstrips. This month alone, it seized two vital landmarks: the rebels' erstwhile administrative capital, called Kilinochchi, and the isthmus called Elephant Pass, which connects northern Jaffna Peninsula to the rest of the island. Their territory fast shrinking, the Tamil Tigers now appear to be cornered in and around their northeastern garrison town of Mullaitivu. Full Text