STF commandos stay on in hospital

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 15 October 2003, 13:57 GMT]
Special Task Force (STF), the elite counter insurgency arm of the Sri Lankan armed forces, said Wednesday it would further delay moving out of the Thirukkovil District Hospital, 76 kilometres south of Batticaloa. The hospital, which is in the midst of a large Tamil village, has been garrisoned by the STF for 17 years despite protests by local rights activists and politicians.

During several rounds of talks with the Liberation Tigers, the MP for the area and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) on measures for restoring normalcy in the region last year, senior STF officers promised to vacate the hospital by the beginning of 2003.

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TamilNet Library photo
On Wednesday the head of the LTTE's political division for the Batticaloa-Amparai District, Mr. E. Kousalyan, and the head of the LTTE's political division for Amparai, Mr. Bawa, met an STF delegation led by senior officer for the region, Mr. Upul Seniveratna, to resume discussions on outstanding issues, which are continuing to hinder the return to normal life in the islandís southeastern coast and its hinterlands.

The meeting was arranged at the office of the SLMM in Akkaraipattu, a Tamil/Muslim town 64 kilometres south of Batticaloa.

STF officers told Mr. Kousalyan that they are considering a building in the village of Kalliyanthivu on the western outskirts of Thirukkovil as a possible venue for relocating their camp in the hospital.

The multi purpose building was completed last month under the World Bank funded NorthEast Irrigated Agriculture Project (NEIAP) and is managed by the Kalliyanthivu Rural Development Society (RDS).

STF officers also told the Liberation Tigers that they (STF) would soon move from their camp occupying the village of Kanjirankudah, about five kilometres south of Thirukkovil.

But the new camp, which is situated about hundred metres from the present location at the Kanjirankudah Junction, would still occupy part of the village, preventing villagers from resettling in their homes. Commandos chased away ten families that resettled near the new camp this week.

STF garrisoned Kanjirankudah thirteen years ago after driving out all its residents and banning cultivation in the fertile fields around the village.

The Liberation Tigers urged the STF to come up soon with a viable solution to the predicament of the long displaced residents of Kanjirankudah.

However, the STF agreed to remove its camp on the Akkaraipattu - Kanjirankudah Road at Saahamam. The camp here straddles this interior road through the regionís large rice belt, blocking traffic. STF said they would move the camp to a side and open the route when repairs to the road begin.

The LTTE officials also raised the question of the STF continuing to occupy the Agrarian Services Departmentís office in Komari, a Tamil village about 20 kilomertres south of Thirukkovil. STF officers said they would pull out of the building soon and move into a new camp built at Karappaankerni, on the southern outskirts of Komari. STF occupies both places now.

Responding to concerns raised by STF officers about a new structure the LTTE is building at Pavatta, in the interior west of Thirukkovil, Mr. Kousalyan said that it was their political/administrative office for the region.

 

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