Mosque leaders urge Muslim Tamil unity, blame paramilitary for violence

[TamilNet, Sunday, 14 January 2007, 08:34 GMT]
Representatives of the Federation of Mosques in Kathankudy, Saturday, in a bid to calm down tension between communities in the border settlements between Kathankudy Muslim and Arayampathy Tamil areas, urged the civilians not to fall prey to the forces seeking to damage Muslim Tamil harmony, after Karuna paramilitary personnel attached to the Sri Lankan counter-insurgency Special Task Force (STF) camp in Arayampathy had attacked Muslim travellers Friday, causing the victims to seek refuge in Kathankudy Mosque. Paramilitary violence and threats posed by armed "Jihad" men against Tamils have ceased and normalcy was reported in the area Sunday.

The paramilitary group has been recently blamed for increased violent thefts of motorbikes, and at least one shooting incident in the predominant Muslim town of Kathankudy.

In the meantime, 347 Tamil families, recently dsiplaced from Vaharai area, north of Batticaloa, were temporarily placed by the District Secretariat in the Tamil-predominant Arayampathi bordering the Muslim settlements.

Sections of Muslims in the border area opposed the move. Armed men from the "Jihad" group, a Muslim armed group sensitive to the land and settlement issue, also threatened the IDP families by entering the settlement and firing at the air Wednesday night.

As tension arose, paramilitary personnel, attached to the local STF camp in Arayampathy stepped up their violence against Muslims in an attempt to win a support base among the IDP families.

On Friday, around 10 masked paramilitary personnel stopped a van with Muslim travellers ion Batticaloa - Kalmunai Road, in front of a church, 300 meters away from the STF camp in Arayampathi, and attacked the passengers with gun butts, says Iliaz Mouvi, the vice president of the Islamic traders association.

Following the incident, which took place around 7:00 p.m., a group of Muslim representatives went to the STF camp and complained on the incident. But, the STF had declined to step in to control the paramilitary violence.

Muslim men and women, riding in bicyles and motorbikes, were also attacked at Kangeyan Odai, Ollikkulam and Palamunai by the paramilitary.

Muslims, on Friday, launched a shut down and hartal against the alleged inaction by the STF and the paramilitary escalated violence.

In the meantime, the Police SSP Maxie Proctor, together with the civil representatives, stepped in to resolve to the settlement issue and the associated concerns of both the communities.

The announcement by the Mosque leaders, using loud halers, urged Muslims to interact with Tamils as usual.

Special Task Force (STF), is an elite wing of the Sri Lankan armed forces, comprising specially trained and equipped unit of commandos drawn from the Sri Lankan Police, initially developed for the counter insurgency deployment in the East.

 

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