European Union foreign ministers called for an independent inquiry into alleged war crimes (BBC) by both Tamil Tiger rebels and Sri Lanka’s government.
Watchdog groups also accused both sides of violating international laws of war.
Sri Lanka has been mired in ethnic conflict since the country, formerly known as Ceylon, became independent from British rule in 1948.
A 2001 government census (PDF) says Sri Lanka’s main ethnic populations are the Sinhalese (82 percent), Tamil (9.4 percent), and Sri Lanka Moor (7.9 percent).
Rajapaksa allied his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) with two staunchly anti-LTTE political parties: the radical Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP, People’s Liberation Front) and the nationalist Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU, National Heritage Party) controlled by Buddhist monks.
Muslim parliamentarians have also sided with this alliance against the militants.
For the next two years, both the government and rebels repeatedly violated the cease-fire agreement.
In January 2008, a cabinet spokesman said it was "useless talking to them [the LTTE] now" (AP), and the Sri Lankan government formally withdrew from the truce, prompting Nordic monitors to pull out of the country.
As ethnic tension grew, in 1976, the LTTE was formed under the leadership of Velupillai Prabhakaran, and it began to campaign for a Tamil homeland in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, where most of the island’s Tamils reside.
In 1983, the LTTE ambushed an army convoy, killing thirteen soldiers and triggering riots in which 2,500 Tamils died.