Hartal in Batticaloa to protest killings
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 24 May 2000, 13:00 GMT]
Shops and schools were closed, few reported for work in government offices and roads were generally deserted Wednesday in Batticaloa, Valaichenai and other towns in the eastern district. This hartal was in response to a call by a student organisation to protest against the indiscriminate shooting by Sri Lankan security forces on May 17 in which scores of civilians were killed and wounded. The Police failed in the morning to compel shops in Batticaloa town to open up for business.
Shops and schools were closed in Chenkalady and Kaluwanchikudi as well.
Local human rights organisations and the Tamil United Liberation Front MP Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham have alleged that many civilians, including a priest and a Tamil Policeman were killed and wounded when the Sri Lankan security forces opened fire on a crowd of people who had come to see a religious festival at the Buddhist temple in this eastern town, which caters mainly to Sinhala soldiers and policemen. The firing had started following a bomb blast in the area. The bomb had been detected and isolated but had blown up before it was defused.
Meanwhile sources said there were no incidents of violence during the day in the town which was generally quiet. The SLA and the police are on a heightened state of alert following yesterday's attack by the Liberation Tigers on the Vavunathivu camp, four kilometers south west of Batticaloa town, on the main approach to the Sri Lanka Air Force base.
Schools in the northern Vavuniya District were also deserted today due to another hartal called by the student organisation there. Annual Tamil Day competitions among the schools, scheduled for today, were postponed due to the hartal, school authorities said.