Sri Lanka suspects third party role in attack on TN fishermen

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Chennai, Jan 25 (PTI) Sri Lanka today said its Navywould not fire at Indian fishermen even if they had crossedthe maritime boundary and suspected the role of some "thirdparty" behind the recurring incidents.

"The Sri Lankan navy is not involved in these attacksand we are equally concerned. We want to find out who didthis. The Sri Lankan Navy will not not fire at Indianfishermen even if they had crossed into our waters," SriLankan High Commissioner to India Prasad Kariyawasam toldreporters here.

He said he hoped that investigation on both sideswould throw more light on the killing of two fishermen fromTamil Nadu in the past fortnight over which India had lodged astrong protest and demanded action from the Lankan Government.

Kariyawasam came here to meet state Chief Secretary SMalathy to express concern over the attack on the MahabodhiSociety, a Buddhist centre, here last night which left fourSri Lankan nationals, including a monk, injured. The attack isseen as a retaliation to the killing of fishermen.

He doubted the role of some third party in the attackson Tamil Nadu fishermen in the Palk Straits and said thatproper investigation would bring out the truth.

"Now that the LTTE is no more, we do not know who didit. We hope investigation (on both sides) throws light."

Admitting that it was ''difficult'' for the fishermen toidentify the maritime boundary, he said a Joint Working Groupof the two countries will discuss and try to find a solution.

Asked about the possibility of allowing Tamil Nadufishermen to fish in the contentious Katchatheevu , an isletceded to Sri Lanka by India in 1974 by way of a pact, he saidthat "it is best for the people of both countries to respecta demarcated and accepted international boundary."

On the attack on the Bodhi society, Kariyawasam saidit was the handiwork of some "extremist elements who want tovitiate and damage" Indo-Sri Lankan bilateral relations, moreso the "good ties" between the island nation and Tamil Nadu.

On the situation in northern Sri Lanka, he said thecountry was in the process of rebuilding, reconstruction andreconciliation. Of the nearly three lakh internally displacedpeople of Tamil origin, only 5,000 remain to be resettled.

To a question on restrictions for international media,he said "all of Sri Lanka is open to media. But there is aprocedure and permission has to be obtained." PTI SA VS RA VS

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