Yesterday's dastardly suicide terror attack on the national Milad-un Nabi celebrations at Godapitiya, Matara, which left 15 dead and over 40 others injured, has demonstrated once again that the LTTE will never give up violence. If it does not heed calls from the international community to eschew terrorism, bid farewell to arms and enter the democratic mainstream at a time it is about to be decapitated, never will it change.
It is being argued that the LTTE’s target was a group of government politicians. But, what could the LTTE achieve at this juncture by accounting for some politicians who could be targeted anywhere with ease. The LTTE suicide bombers usually go for high profile political or military leaders thought to be a threat to the outfit's cause and/or responsible for the government's current military campaign. Given the deep crisis Prabhakaran finds himself in, expending suicide bombs will not serve his purpose unless the elimination of the targets concerned has a debilitating impact on the war. He cannot be unaware that even if he succeeds in wiping out half of the Cabinet, he won't be able to put the brakes on the government’s military onslaught. Nor can he boost the morale of his cadres surrounded by the army with death staring them in the face by means of some terror strikes elsewhere.
Why did the LTTE carry out yesterday's attack?
Reports that the LTTE has links with Pakistani Islamic terrorists responsible for the recent attack on Sri Lanka's national cricket squad in Lahore could not have come at a worse time for its Tamil Nadu backers who are trying to pressure India, which is consumed with antipathy against Pakistan and terrorist groups operating from there, to throw a lifeline to Prabhakaran. The alleged ties between the LTTE and Pakistani terrorists have also caused serious concern to the West, whose support the LTTE sympathisers are trying to muster to open an escape route for Prabhakaran. Nothing would have dealt a more devastating blow to their campaign than the news of a nexus between the LTTE and Islamic terrorists.
Therefore, the LTTE may have sought to control damage by allaying India's fears and pandering to the anti-Muslim frenzy of the West with an attack on a national event to mark the Holy Prophet Mohammed's birth and attracting international media attention to it. Now, the LTTE's hired guns in India and elsewhere may ask how an outfit that has attacked an event holy to Muslims could be accused of having links with Islamic terrorist groups. They may also cite in support of their argument the large number of heinous crimes the LTTE has committed against Sri Lankan Muslims such as their forcible eviction from the North and massacres at Kattandudi and Eravur in 1990.
However, no amount of such cowardly violence will help save Prabhakaran and his fellow terrorists in the departure lounge.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s terror strike should serve as a warning to the government that it must never lower its guard.