Violence Returns to Sri Lanka's East

by The Tamil Guardian

Despite optimism stemming from a recent lull, violence in the eastern Batticaloa-Amparai region has again escalated in the wake of the execution-style killings last week of two LTTE political cadres by uniformed gunmen who escaped into a Sri Lankan military camp.

On Sunday five members of the LTTE’s Political Wing working in their office in Batticaloa town narrowly escaped when unidentified gunmen on a motorbike lobbed five grenades, one by one, through the building’s front door.

Although the nearest police post is located at Arasady, 100 meters from the office, the LTTE office has been attacked at least six times within the last 12 months.

Also on Sunday, Special Task Force (STF, a militarized police force) commandos stormed into the LTTE’s Office in Karaithivu in Kalmunai and arrested a political wing cadre and three civilians in it.

The arrests were made to investigate the recent attacks on police and security posts in Amparai district, the STF soldiers told Sammanthurai Police, to whom the detainees were handed over.

On Saturday evening, two unidentified gunmen on a motorbike lobbed a grenade and fired into the main entrance of the police station in Thirukkovil.  Police returned fire, but the attackers escaped.  Thirukkovil is 10 km. south of Akkaraipattu in the Amparai district.

In the preceding two days there had been several gun and grenade attacks on Sri Lankan security forces, especially the police and STF.

The spike in violence follows the execution-style killings on Wednesday of two LTTE political wing cadres by uniformed gunmen who escaped into a nearby STF base.

The bodies of Sinnathamby Vigneswaran (Captain Ramesh) of Gayathri village, Thirukovil and Balakaran Nirojan (2nd Lt. Sujiventhan) of Thirukovil, were dumped with their hands tied behind their backs.

The pair had left the LTTE’s Amparai political office and were on their way to Thirukkovil to engage in political campaigning when their motorcycle was stopped by unidentified gunmen in a blue van.

The incident took place at Kanjirankuda Junction on the Akkaraipattu-Pottuvil Main Road, around 300 meters away from the Special Task Force (STF) base in Kanjirankuda.

Local residents who witnessed the attack said the assailants, carrying AK-47 type weapons, wore camouflage uniforms and the driver of the van was dressed in a police uniform.

In a complaint to international ceasefire monitors, the LTTE said the attackers’ vehicle went into the STF camp in Kanchirankuda after the killings.

The two slain cadres were buried on Friday with full military honours at an LTTE cemetery in Batticaloa.  Several hundred LTTE members and civilians attended the funeral.

On the same day, attacks on Sri Lankan security forces in the region escalated.

A military-trained policeman was shot and killed and two others seriously wounded when unidentified gunmen fired at a police mobile unit Friday evening at Dehiyathakandia in Amparai district.

Another police constable was shot and wounded during the afternoon in Karaithivu, 48 kilometres south of Batticaloa whilst on duty at Vettuvaikalavai Bridge with two other police constables.

Unidentified gunmen also fired at a water bowser belonging to the Special STF in the evening at Sangamamkandy in Pottuvil, 90 km. south of Batticaloa.  Three STF soldiers sustained minor injuries and the vehicle was damaged.

On Thursday night, a policeman and a home guard, along with two civilians standing near the their armed guard post, were wounded when unidentified persons riding a motorbike lobbed a grenade into it. The post was close to the Triple Gem tsunami refugee camp in Kalmunai.

Dozens of LTTE cadres, security forces personnel and civilians have been killed in recent months and there are fears the silent war of attrition in the east could spiral into all-out war.

In July, after a spate of lethal attacks on their cadres, the Tigers closed their offices in the east and pulled their cadres back into their controlled areas. That reduced the number of attacks and eased tensions.

Recently some LTTE cadres returned and political campaigning began. So did the attacks on them.

The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), tasked with overseeing the February 2002 truce, is worried.

SLMM Chief Hagrup Haukland is convinced neither the government nor the LTTE want to resume the conflict. But peace talks have been stalled since 2003 and the shadow war between Army-backed paramilitaries and the LTTE continues.

The LTTE says Sri Lanka’s military intelligence is waging a war of attrition against them.

Last week Mr. Anton Balasingham, the chief negotiator and political advisor of the LTTE said five Tamil paramilitary armed groups, including the Karuna group, are being paid and provided with logistic support by the Sri Lanka security forces in a covert military campaign" to destabilise the Eastern province and to paralyse the LTTE’s political engagement in the region."

Compiled from reports by TamilNet and local press


Posted August 14, 2005