The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on Wednesday denounced as unfair and one-sided the European Union's decision to bar the Sri Lankan separatists from entering EU member countries.
"The Tamil people and the Liberation Tigers are shocked at this decision by the EU," the guerillas' political wing chief S.P. Thamilselvan told reporters in the northern rebel stronghold of Kilinochchi.
The EU said in a statement Monday that Tamil Tiger representatives will be refused entry to member states until further notice while the body decides whether to add the group to its list of terrorist organizations, according to the AP.
The statement said the Tigers' "continuing use of violence and terrorism" threatened the country's fragile peace process.
Thamilselvan said the ban indicated that the EU had sided with Sri Lanka's government, which accuses the LTTE of assassinating former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar on Aug. 12. The Tamil Tigers deny any involvement in the killing.
"The international community has made this move solely going by the government claim that we killed Kadirgamar," said Thamilselvan.
The Tamil Tiger rebels began fighting in 1983 for a separate Tamil homeland, claiming discrimination by the majority Sinhalese. The war between the guerrillas and the government killed nearly 65,000 people before a Norway-brokered cease-fire was signed in 2002.
The EU ban is seen as a severe blow to the rebels, who have focused on bolstering their image internationally.
Rebel delegations have made frequent visits to Europe to meet with Tamil expatriates and raise funds. They have also met with senior European leaders for talks on their demand for autonomy.