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Truce Deteriorates in Sri Lanka


NPR's Philip Reeves reports.

PHILIP REEVES: Helen Olafsdottir is spokesperson for the international mission, which monitors the ceasefire.

HELEN OLAFSDOTTIR: The escalation is so incredible in the month of December; we've never seen anything like it. And it seems to be carrying on over to the month of January with so many people being killed. So it is really bad situation.

REEVES: The ceasefire has often been violated in the past, but Olafsdottir says recent attacks have involved the use of claymore mines and much more indiscriminate.

OLAFSDOTTIR: Which means a lot of civilians are being caught in the middle. So they're less targeted, like they were assassination stars. But now, more people are getting dragged into it. And the operations, or the explosions are bigger.

REEVES: The Sri Lankan government described this as a major breakthrough, but analysts Rohan Edirisinha, director of the Center Policy Alternatives in Sri Lanka, struck a more cautious note.

ROHAN EDIRISINHA: it's important to note that the agreement is to talk about securing the ceasefire agreement. So the agenda at the talks, which are going to be held in Geneva, will be very limited; limited to the ceasefire agreement, which is in serious jeopardy. Some people, in fact, argue that there is no ceasefire agreement. And I think there will be some very difficult issues that will have to be resolved.

REEVES: Lasantha Wickrematunge, editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper in Sri Lanka, says the consequences of this could be severe.

LASANTHA WICKREMATUNGE: Then the country is looking a long, drawn-out battle, not only in the north and the east of all that will be brought to the city. There will economic diversification in the country, tourism will grind to a halt, investment will dry up, cost of living will be soaring through the skies, the arms merchants move in for the kill and the country is basically going to be looking down the barrel.

REEVES: Philip Reeves, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.
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