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Tamil Tigers announce summit cease-fire

  • Story Highlights
  • Tamil Tiger rebels say cease-fire in place for South Asian summit in Sri Lanka capital
  • Spokesman said there will be no peace talks alongside cease-fire
  • Sri Lanka government said its offensive would end if rebels disarmed
  • Tigers have been fighting for independent state since 1983
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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CNN) -- Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels, who are fighting for an independent homeland, said Tuesday they will observe a 10-day unilateral cease-fire.

The truce is to happen while South Asian leaders meet in the island's capital this month. The Sri Lankan government said it had no reaction to the announcement.

Colombo is hosting a summit for the eight-country South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), beginning July 27. The meeting will bring top regional officials from Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives to meet with their Sri Lankan counterparts.

The rebels said the ceasefire was an act of goodwill because it wants to see the summit succeed.

"At the same time, if the occupying ... forces, disrespecting our goodwill gesture of our people and our nation, carry out any offensives, our movement will be forced to take defensive actions," it added.

Foreign Minister Rohita Bogollagama told lawmakers the government would not comment on the ceasefire offer.

A Sri Lankan intelligence official described the announcement as a "cunning ploy." He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment publicly on the matter.

"We know if they (the rebels) do anything, they would earn the wrath of not only the Government of Sri Lanka but all SAARC members too," the official said. "If we accept it, they want to be in a position to say the summit meeting was held only because they offered a unilateral ceasefire."

The fighting in Sri Lanka pits government forces in a country dominated by the Sinhalese ethnic group against rebels from the Tamil minority. The rebels, formally known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), are fighting for the creation of an independent nation, citing discrimination by the Sinhalese.

The fighting is centered in the country's north. The government has blamed the Tamil Tiger rebels for carrying out a wave of attacks on buses, train stations and other public places throughout the country.

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