Govt. points finger at LTTE
Says Ceasefire Agreement with LTTE to continue
By Chandani Kirinde and Santhush Fernando
The Government last night blamed the Tiger guerrillas for assassinating Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and rejected their claims of innocence.
"Indications are that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is responsible," Cabinet Spokesman Nimal Siripala de Silva told a news conference.

He said "the Government finds it difficult to accept the LTTE's denial." Earlier, guerrilla Political Wing leader S.P. Thamilselvan declared they were not involved in the assassination and claimed "there are several other forces opposed to the Ceasefire Agreement in the South."

Police Chief Chandra Fernando backed Minister de Silva's claim that the LTTE was involved. He said from the weapons used for the killing, a 7.62 telescopic sniper gun and the grenade launcher found later, it is obvious the LTTE was behind the killing. He declared no other group has this kind of weapons.
Despite Cabinet spokesman de Silva's claim last night, a statement issued earlier yesterday by President Chandrika Kumaratunga avoided any reference to the LTTE. She said Mr. Kadirgamar was "felled by political foes opposed to the peaceful transformation of conflict and who were determined to undermine attempts towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict."
What was apparently a new Government position, charging the LTTE came, at a news conference chaired by Minister de Silva.

The government spokesman de Silva said the killing of Mr. Kadirgamar was a clear violation of the ceasefire agreement and a grave setback to the peace process but the government would abide by the ceasefire agreement.
He said the National Security Council chaired by President Chandrika Kumaratunga held an emergency meeting yesterday and decided to declare a state of emergency while putting the security forces on full alert.
The minister vowed that killers, whoever they were, would be hunted down and brought to justice. He said the government would ask the international community to put pressure on the LTTE to end the spate of killings.

State funeral at Independence Square
The slain Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar will be given a state funeral tomorrow and it will also be a day of national mourning, the funeral committee has decided.

The body of Mr. Kadirgamar was taken to his official residence at Wijerama Mawatha yesterday. The funeral procession will start from there and reach Independence Square at 2 p.m. The body will not be taken to Parliament in keeping with a request by the family. The government has requested that all liquor shops be closed tomorrow and that the national flag be flown at half mast.

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