Colombo, July 1: The only way to halt the violence that has killed more than 700 people this year and raised the spectre of renewed civil war in Sri Lanka is to confine the military to barracks, the Tamil Tigers said today.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the military accuse each other of instigating clashes and analysts see an increasing tit-for-tat pattern in recent attacks which are straining a 2002 ceasefire to breaking point.
''The activities of the military over the civilian population are exactly as it was during war time,'' S P Thamilselvan, head of the Tigers' political wing, told Reuters in an email interview.
''I believe the only way to stop violence is to restrain the military in its barracks.'' The Tigers also say the government must disarm a band of breakaway comrades led by a top former rebel commander called Karuna -- who they accuse of mounting attacks with the help of the army.
The feud between the mainstream Tigers and Karuna is seen as one of the biggest hurdles to efforts to convince the rebels to resume talks aimed at agreeing a final end to a two-decade conflict that has killed more than 65,000 people.
''Armed groups operating with the military, and assisting the military in creating this terror-filled, violent environment, must be disarmed and their operations in the Tamil homeland must be stopped,'' Thamilselvan said.
Karuna's group, the TMVP, has vowed to keep up attacks against the Tigers, who they ultimately seek to supplant. Karuna split with the Tigers in 2004, accusing shadowy rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran of discriminating against eastern Tamils.
Sri Lanka's peace process is deadlocked and teetering on the verge of collapse. The government and rebels are sharply divided over the Tigers' demands for a separate homeland for minority Tamils in the north and east. ''Aerial bombardment, artillery shelling, deep penetration attacks by the Sri Lankan army inside the Tamil homeland, civilians disappearing, families being murdered en-masse ... as we read the situation, the government is readying for a full scale war,'' Thamilselvan said.
''The only way to bring an end to the current violence is to implement the ceasefire agreement immediately,'' he said.
The government says the door remains open for the Tigers to return to the peace table, and says any retaliation against rebel attacks will be limited and that all-out war is not an option.
Piling further strain on the situation, the Tigers insist Nordic truce monitors from European Union states must quit the island before September 1 in light of an EU ban against the rebels.
That would cut the monitoring mission in half, leaving monitors from only Norway and Iceland.
''We can re-examine our position when the EU countries change their position and accept parity of status and neutrality in relation to the two parties in the peace efforts,'' Thamilselvan said.
''While the EU announcement is in place, their presence in SLMM will only create confusion about the peace efforts and operations of the SLMM.''