Tamil Tigers apologise to Sri Lanka's Muslims


Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels reached out to the country's Muslim minority today, apologising for expelling them from the north and promising talks to heal the rift.

"Let us forget and forgive the mistakes made in the past. Tamil Eelam (nation) is also the homeland of the Muslims and we have to live in harmony," LTTE chief negotiator Mr Anton Balasingham was quoted as saying.

One of the key hurdles in settling the nearly two-decade-old conflict has been the status of the Muslims, of whom tens of thousands were kicked out of Jaffna peninsula more than 10 years ago by the Tigers.

They were given just a few days to quit villages they had lived in for decades. The rebels have also been blamed for gunning down hundreds of Muslims at prayers in the east during the 1980s.

"We do recognise the unique cultural identity of the Muslim community," said Mr Balasingham, who added that he and LTTE leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran planned to meet Muslim leaders soon.