As the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM) withdrew from combat areas in the North and East, the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) raid killed 15 civilians (including 4 children), wounded dozens, and destroyed all but 5 houses in Northern coast near Mannar. The SLAF confirmed Israeli-built Kfir jet raids on Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) positions, especially a Sea Tigers base, and claimed to have destroyed a “Tiger mortar position” and delivering severe punishment on rebels, but denied attacks on civilians.
Ironically, the SLAF attack soon after President Mahinda Rajapakse and the LTTE spokesperson wished for peace in their respective New Year messages. Rajapakse said that he hoped that the “New Year will bring the long awaited genuine and sustainable peace" and the LTTE said it hoped that the world will “stand” with the “Tamil people in their sincere effort to seek a permanent peace through a just political solution.” The use of the word “political solution” by the Tigers is interesting as it comes a few weeks after their leader Vellupillai Prabakaran said that independence was the only way out for the Tamils and it is not clear what this “political solution” would include. Rajapakse says that he is trying to build a “political solution” by building consensus and New Delhi has been urging a federal approach as followed by the more liberal Indian Constitution.