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Friday, 28 July, 2000, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Sri Lanka urges Tiger ban
Tiger leader with artillery
The Tamil Tigers are fighting for a separate state
Sri Lanka has formally requested the United Kingdom to ban the separatist Tamil Tigers, whose international headquarters are in London.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar made the request during talks in London with the UK Foreign Office Minister, Peter Hain.

The Foreign Office has confirmed the request and said Mr Hain told his Sri Lankan counterpart that the UK Government would consider it.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have been fighting Sri Lankan forces in the north and the east of the island for the last 17 years.

Banned

Sri Lanka has long been concerned at the Tigers' overseas activities.

Tamil Tigers
Established early 1970s
Leader - Velupillai Prabhakaran
International HQ in London
Strongholds in north and east Sri Lanka
Estimated 10,000 fighters
In particular, they have expressed concern that the large Tamil diaspora spread across North America and Europe has been raising funds for Tamil Tiger operations in Sri Lanka.

The United States banned the LTTE in 1997 and India outlawed the separatist organisation after it was accused of using a suicide bomber to assassinate former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi during an election rally in 1991.

Earlier this month, Sri Lanka asked the Swiss authorities to investigate alleged Tamil Tiger fund-raising activities in Switzerland, saying there was evidence large sums of money had been raised.

The UK has introduced a new terrorism bill, which could be used against foreign groups operating from its territory.

The Sri Lankan statement said that it had asked that the Tamil Tigers be proscribed under the provisions of the new law.

The Tigers have been blamed for assassinating political and military figures and targeting civilians in bomb attacks.

Last month, a cabinet minister, CV Goonaratne, was killed along with 20 others in a suicide bomb attack in the capital, Colombo.

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See also:

14 Jul 00 | South Asia
Switzerland asked to probe Tamil groups
16 Jun 00 | South Asia
Canada's Tamils under scrutiny
07 Jun 00 | South Asia
Bomb kills Sri Lankan minister
25 May 00 | South Asia
Tamil diaspora surfs for news
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