Batticaloa Bishop holds meeting to defuse tension
[TamilNet, Thursday, 22 May 2008, 21:39 GMT]
A special conference was held Thursday afternoon 5:00 p.m.at the residence of Batticaloa Bishop’s to ease the tension prevailing in Kaaththaankudi, Batticaloa District in the aftermath of Thursday morning shooting incidents in the area that has so far claimed the lives of five men, sources in Batticaloa said.
Representatives from all the mosques in Kaaththaankudi and Federation of various Muslim organizations, Bishop Kingsley Swampillai Bishop of Trincomalle-Batticaloa district and Senior Superintendent of Police Nanayakkara participated in the conference convened to explore ways and means of restoring normalcy in the region.
Following the revenge killing in Kaaththaankudi of three Muslims by gunmen from the Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Puuligal (TMVP) Pillayan paramilitary group in retaliation for the slaying of two of their operatives, tension still prevails in the area, sources said.
Four other persons, including two Sinhalese were wounded in the Thursday afternoon attack on Muslim travelers in the predominantly Tamil village of Aaraiyampathi, 1.5 km south of the Muslim town, Kaaththaankudi.
Sri Lankan police and Special Task Force (STF) commandos have been deployed in the area. A local curfew was imposed and additional forces were sent to the border village, Police said.
People were seen roaming around the streets in the area armed with swords and knifes, eyewitnesses said.
The TMVP group alleged that the Muslims were responsible for the slaying of its key operative, Shanthan, who was opposed by Muslims in Kaaththaankudi following his involvement in the land dispute between the two communities. One of his associate too was killed during the Thursday morning shooting incident.
The violence also comes after the controversy between sections of the Muslims and the TMVP who were used by the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse to gain maximum votes in the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) elections.
One of the Muslims shot dead, was a businessman, according to initial reports.
All shops were closed in Kaaththaankudi and the transport services have been canceled.