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Sri Lanka

Yearbook 1996

Sri Lanka. According to, an end to the war with the Tamil guerrillas seemed distant in 1996. The year began with a terrible blast attack in central Colombo. At least 80 people were killed and more than 1,400 injured when a truck full of explosives drove straight into the central bank's headquarters on January 31. Authorities accused the guerrilla Tamil Eelam's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the act. In December 1995, the army had driven out the LTTE from its headquarters in Jaffna in the north. The army's continuing offensive against LTTE's positions in the east harassed many casualties on both sides in January, and fighting flared up again in March. Just before the army launched a new offensive against the Jaffna Peninsula in April, President Chandrika Kumaratunga introduced a state of emergency throughout the country. The government was given the right to enforce laws without Parliament's approval.

1996 Sri Lanka

After a month's offensive, the army claimed to have complete control over all of Jaffna, and the government began planning for a reconstruction of the peninsula. Then the LTTE struck an army base in Mullaitivu in the northeast and killed between 300 and 1,200 soldiers - the numbers of the army and guerrillas went very far apart, but it was arguably the army's most difficult adversity in several years. It took the army a week to recover the base, since even the troops brought in to the rescue suffered severe losses. During the rest of the summer, the army also went on offensive against the guerrilla's new headquarters in Kilinochchi in the northeast. New offensives were carried out during the fall, but neither side seemed able to decide the war.

The LTTE rejected the president's invitation to new peace talks, and the government's hope of ending the war through increased self-government for the Tamil provinces did not appear to be able to be met. The government does not have the majority in Parliament needed for the necessary constitutional change.

Former President Junius Jayawardene passed away in November, 90 years old. It was during his tenure that the Tamil war began, and he was considered to carry a great debt to it.

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