( AFP ) - Experts on counter terrorism have urged Sri Lanka's government to capitalise on recent victories against the Tamil Tigers and try to hammer out a political solution to the long-running ethnic war.
Earlier this year, government forces managed to eject the ethnic rebels from their last stronghold in the east of the island, while recent weeks saw the navy claim it had sunk the Tigers' last gun-running ship.
But as Colombo turns its attention to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) mini-state in the north, experts at a terrorism conference in the capital this week said authorities should instead try to revive peace efforts.
"Going by the navy's recent success, about 75 percent of the guerrillas' logistics capabilities to transport weapons has been destroyed," said Shanaka Jayasekara of the Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism at Australia's Macquarie University.
He said the rebels now needed about 12-18 months to restore their supply capabilities to about 50 percent.
"We need to invest military success into a viable peace deal," Jayasekara told delegates at an international conference on counter-terrorism in Colombo this week.
A 2002 truce brokered by Norway began to unravel in December 2005 and since then, thousands of people have killed and many more displaced as fighting in Asia's longest-running civil war once progressively escalates.
Former Indian army chief General V. P. Malik said Sri Lanka needed to resist the temptation to attempt to go in for the kill -- and rather work towards reviving the moribund peace process.
"There are no quick solutions to counter terrorism... the military can only create conditions wherein the adversary is inclined to or feel it necessary to come to the negotiating table," Malik said.
Delegates did, however, voice scepticism over whether the LTTE were ever intent on peace.
" Sri Lanka has fought for many years, not without attempting -- in vain -- to reach a political solution to the conflict, against the terrorist activities of the Tamil Tigers," noted French anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, referring to six rounds of peace talks between September 2002 and March 2003.
The former director of France's European Centre for the Study of Conflicts, Gerard Chaliand, also said that "no peace seems possible" with Tamil Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran.
The 2002-2005 ceasefire, he said, "was but a tactical truce" in the eyes of the Tigers -- who are branded across the world as a terrorist organisation.
But he added that "no military solution can solve the Tamil problem alone."
"Ultimately... the problem remains political," he said.
Jayasekara said Sri Lanka also needed to step up diplomatic efforts to curb the rebels' formidable financing through an international network that brings in millions from the Tamil diaspora.
Jayasekara said the Tigers' Tamil Television Network had 22,000 subscribers in Europe and generated "substantial income" from advertising. He also said the LTTE maintained finance, procurement and intelligence units in 12 countries, including Germany and Switzerland.
"You need to look at the sympathisers, the financiers, the facilitators of money, the propaganda machine, the procurement of arms and criminal activities being carried out," said David Leppan, founder and chief executive officer of World-Check, an institution that provides a database of high-risk individuals.