New SLA commander in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Friday, 14 November 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Major General Lionel Balagalle who took over duties this morning as Sri Lankan security forces commander in Jaffna called on the Liberation Tigers to extend their co-operation to resolve the ethnic conflict and bring about peace.

He was speaking at a ceremony after visiting the Hindu temple in Chankanai about 10.30 a.m.

Earlier he officially took over duties at the SLA base in Palaly in the presence of the Jaffna GA, the Jaffna Bishop Rt. Rev. Thomas Savundaranayagam, chief incumbent of the Nallai Aatheenam and two Buddhist monks who had been flown in from the south for the occasion.

Security was heavily beefed up in the Chankanai area in preparation for his temple visit afterwards.

Representatives of the Church of South India also joined the ceremony at Chankanai.

The Catholic Bishop did not attend this function.

Observers in Jaffna said that Maj. Gen. Balagalle's statement may be a manifestation of the growing realisation among sections of the army top brass that the nothing can be done about the Eelam War unless there is a dialogue with the Liberation Tigers.

Others said that this was merely a tactic to endear himself to the Jaffna people by showing them that he is not a person who is hell bent on finishing off the LTTE.

Meanwhile the Navy rounded up all civilians in the island of Karainagar this morning for a search operation.

All civilians in the island were asked to gather at Thiyagarajah Maththiya Mahavithiyalayam and Yarlton College around 6.00 a.m. this morning.

The massive operation by the navy went on till 10.30 a.m. Several people were detained and the others were asked to go home. No details of those detained were available.


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