Grenade explosions, tension mark election eve in Jaffna
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 16 November 2005, 22:49 GMT]
Tension prevailed in Jaffna, and streets were deserted at 7.00 p.m. as several grenade explosions marked the election eve. Unidentified assailants lobbed grenades at the offices of the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP) offices in Chavakacheri, Manipay, Achchuveli, Point Pedro and Mallakam where the EPDP intelligence operatives and supporters were reportedly co-ordinating plans for vote-rigging. EPDP has campaigned in favour of presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapakse.
A Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldier sustained serious injuries and several EPDP cadres received minor injuries in Wednesday's explosions.
SLA soldiers were deployed at the clustered polling booths in Jaffna contrary to the earlier reports that only Sri Lankan police would be engaged in providing security. Armoured cars draped with nets to shield from grenade attacks patroled the streets of Jaffna, sources said.
An SLA soldier was wounded in Kachchai when two motorbike-riding assailants lobbed a grenade at the sentry post around 1:00 p.m, police said. The wounded soldier was rushed to Palaly military hospital.
Unidentified men lobbed grenades at the EPDP office located in Manipay Maruthadi junction around 4:30 p.m, police said. A grenade was lobbed at the Achchuveli office of the EPDP located on Avarangal Achuveli Road around 8:00 p.m. Mallakam office of the EPDP was attacked at 8:15 p.m. Minor injuries were reported by medical sources in Jaffna.
Three more grenade attacks were reported after 9:00 p.m Wednesday.
A policeman was wounded in Nelliyadi at 9:30 p.m. in a grenade attack. The Manthikai, Point-Pedro, office of the EPDP was attacked at 9:30 p.m. An SLA military post was also targeted by unknown assailants Wednesday night.
SLA soldiers stopped many riders on motorbikes and took the bikes to nearby Police posts to check presence of explosives.
Four grenades were lobbed at the sentry post situated in Chavakacheri Hindu Ladies College which is to serve as a clustered polling station during Thursday elections. The assailants also fired at the sentry post. SLA soldiers retaliated with gunfire, sources said.
EPDP office in Chavakacheri was also attacked. An EPDP vehicle was also targeted by the attackers in Nunavil on Jaffna Kandy Road in Thenmaradchi, Chavakacheri Police said.
Nearly forty SLA soldiers were manning each polling station in addition to the policemen who were already engaged in duty.
Meanwhile, sources at the office of the Government Agent in Jaffna said all the ballot tokens have reached designated destination stations including those in the islets of Nainativu, Neduntivu, Analaitivu and Eluvaitivu where the ballot papers were transported by the Sri Lanka Navy.
Earlier in the day, Sri Lankan troops were busy removing posters calling for boycotting the polls. A poster said the voters who ignore the elections also excercise the "democratic virtue" by expressing the unsuitability of both candidates.
Hundreds of university students carried effigies of presidential candidates Mahinda Rajapakse and Ranil Wickramasinghe from Jaffna Medical faculty to Thirunelveli Junction where they burnt the effigies.