Cambodia Not Source of Tigers’ Arms: Minister

Minister of Defense Tea Banh on Wednesday denied reports that Cambodia is still a major source of arms for Sri Lanka’s separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

“They don’t use weapons from our country,” Tea Banh said, re­spond­ing to a recent news report in the international security magazine Jane’s Intelligence Review.

The weapon’s smuggling information “was true more than 10 years ago,” Tea Banh said, adding that Cambodian arms are now too outdated and old to be of use to anyone.

Cambodia has destroyed many of its surplus and old light arms in “flames of peace” weapon-burning ceremonies and mechanical decommissioning, Tea Banh said.

“Even missiles, we also deactivate them,” he added.

Deputy National Police Com­missioner Sok Phal said that although he had not read Jane’s report, he suspected it referred to the situation before 1998 or 1999. In recent years, no weapons have leaked out of Cambodia, he claimed.

The Jane’s report, an excerpt of which was published on the magazine’s Web site July 19, claimed that “Cambodia is one of the most significant single sources of weapons for the insurgent group,” though it did not cite the sources of its information.

Late last year Prime Minister Hun Sen assured Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wikre­ma­­nayaka that the Tamil Tigers would not receive any more arms from Cambodia. In December, a Sri Lankan Army Major General was posted in Cambodia to work on intelligence issues.

The Tamil Tigers have been waging a violent secessionist campaign since the 1970s and have been sanctioned as a terrorist organization by dozens of countries including the US, Britain, the European Union and India.


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