Mass arrests near Yala Park

[TamilNet, Sunday, 30 November 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Eighty Tamil people were arrested in two villages near Kadhirgamam in an early morning operation today. Seven persons, including a woman are said to have been detained on suspicion that they may be linked to the LTTE. Kadhirgamam is on the southern edge of the Yala national park in the south east of the island.

The operation was carried out by the Sri Lankan army, navy and police. It started at about 4.30am and continued till 9.00am.

The SLA and police suspect that the Liberation Tigers are infiltrating amongst the people of these villages, who have settled here over the years from the hill country, the Vavuniya and the Batticaloa district.

map_yala_nat_park_sri_lanka.gifThe SLA are convinced that the LTTE has a presence in the Yala national park, although search operations involving thousands of troops have failed to locate the Tigers.

There have also been unconfirmed sightings of large cargo vessels of the Yala coast. These are believed to have been LTTE supply ships. The LTTE is believed to have a large base north of the park.

The sanctuary which is one of the island's main tourist attractions lies on the southern end of the Ampara district. The southern edge of the Yala park is contiguous with the southern province, and the Sri Lankan military is concerned that the Tigers may be building up a presence there which could threaten its underbelly.

If this is the case, the SLA will need to allocate troops to defend the area, thereby depleting desperately needed man-power from operations in other parts of the island.

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