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Sri Lanka Needs Peace

Sri Lankan authorities say twelve civilians were killed and two others were wounded by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers, terrorist group. The Tamil Tigers want to establish an independent state in the island’s north and east. The victims were construction workers and members of Sri Lanka’s Sinhala ethnic majority.

The shootings are the latest in a series of attacks that have rocked Sri Lanka. These include grenade attacks on humanitarian organizations and a landmine explosion in a national park that killed six tourists and their guide.

Many Tamils deplore the return to violence. A spokesman for the Eelam People’s Democratic Party said, “the Tamil people do not want another devastating war. They are sick of wars.”

Sri Lanka’s major donor nations -- the United States, Japan, Norway, and the European Union -- issued a statement calling on both the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government “to take immediate steps to reverse the deteriorating situation and put the country back on the road to peace.” The statement called on the Tamil insurgents to “reenter the negotiating process” and renounce violence.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher says the Tamil Tigers cannot have both terrorism and political legitimacy:

“The fact is this is a terrorist group that needs to be treated accordingly. That does not mean one has to close the door on peace. But it does mean that, as we try to leave the door open to peace, you have to walk through that door without a suicide bomb on your belt.”

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Donald Camp says that the Tamil Tigers “is a group that we identified as far back as 1997 as a terrorist organization,” and its “atrocities are well known.” The U.S., says Mr. Camp, also hold democratic governments to high standards where human rights are concerned. He says, “when there are killings in areas controlled by the [Sri Lankan] government, it is certainly the government’s responsibility to uphold law and order. There need to be investigations," he said, "and there need to be prosecutions.”

Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher says the U.S. will work with others to help Sri Lanka find a peaceful solution to the conflict “but it’s time for the parties to take action.”

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.