India sidesteps LTTE air strike

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 28 March 2007, 19:07 GMT]
India treaded with caution and reserve Wednesday while reacting to the Tamil Tigers' air strike on the Sri Lankan Air Force base at Katunayake airport on Sunday, Indian press reports said. Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon was quoted as saying India was concerned general escalation of violence in which the airstrike was one incident.

"We are very concerned at the escalation of violence in Sri Lanka in the last few weeks. The incident is one part of the violent incidents that we have seen. The humanitarian consequences really worry us, when you see thousands of internally displaced people," quoted Menon as saying.

He underplayed the air strike by the LTTE, and said, "To pick on an individual incident of violence will not help solve the root cause of the problem. The root cause of the problem is the conflict that has escalated the violence in last few weeks."

Menon avoided responding to a query on whether LTTE's air power as such posed a threat to India.

Instead he insisted that a solution to the protracted conflict is the real issue.

"We will join the voice within Sri Lanka and abroad who would hope that violence comes to an end soon and that they can find a solution to this conflict, a solution that enables all the communities in Sri Lanka to live together in peace," Menon added.

Sri Lankan government spokesmen have been saying that the LTTE's air capability posed a threat to other countries in the region, especially India and Indonesia, reported.

But according to various reports, the Sri Lankan government has been involving security personnel from other countries in conducting its own military operations against the LTTE.

Pakistan, Israel and Ukraine have been mentioned in this connection.

Some reports have mentioned that Ukrainian mercenary pilots have flown the Sri Lankan aircraft conducting bombing raids in the LTTE-held regions in the northeast of the island in recent weeks, reported.

Conceivably, India would be watching the growing foreign military presence in Sri Lanka with a sense of disquiet, the agency said.

Meanwhile Colombo has blamed the radar installed by India at the Katunayake airbase for their security failure on Sunday to detect and intercept the intruding LTTE aircraft.

But Menon summarily rejected this. "As far as we know, there was no scope of the Indian radars failing," he said.


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