Six soldiers and three civilian employees of the armed forces, who were taken prisoner by the LTTE during the Pooneryn attack in November 1993, were handed over to the International Red Cross last week. They were flown to Kolomba on Sunday the 25th.

At a press conference held in the conference hall of the Army headquarters some of them described the five year ordeal at the hands of the LTTE terrorists. On one occasion Kittu's mother had asked the captors why they did not kill the prisoners.

The release of these soldiers at this time raises a few questions. The LTTE is not a humanitarian organisation and they would not have freed these soldiers for nothing. We do not know what kind of negotiations took place before the release and whether any thing has been given in return to the LTTE.

The all party conferences summoned by the UNP, the big business community and the visit of Fatchett indicate that Britain is trying to get the UNP and the PA to agree on negotiations with the LTTE.It could be that the LTTE freed the soldiers as part of some agreement on the commencement of negotiations.