SLA searches for deserters in Valaichenai
[TamilNet, Monday, 31 July 2000, 16:21 GMT]
Units of the SLA's 23-2 Brigade in Valaichenai searched the villages of Kalmadhu, Kannankiramam, Karuwakerni, Sungaankerni and Kinnaiyadi, 30 kilometers north of Batticaloa Monday for two soldiers who had deserted their positions Sunday evening. Sources in Valaichenai said that the army had come by information that the two deserters had run away from the kalkudah SLA camp through the villages that were searched today. The SLA has grounds to believe that the two soldiers may have escaped across the lagoon to the hinterland controlled by the Liberation Tigers, a source said.
The village of Sungaankerni which lies by the lagoon was particularly searched because the 23-2 brigade suspects that the two soldiers could have been hiding here to make good their escape across the lagoon to LTTE controlled hinterland sources said.
Two soldiers who escaped from the SLA camp at Maavadivembu, eight kilometers south of Valaichenai, last year surrendered to the LTTE and were later given safe passage to their villages by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Meanwhile, sources in Valaichenai said that in another incident recently in the area, a lorry belonging to a co-operative society was stopped by soldiers of a camp on the main trunk road to Polonnaruwa who had requested that two of their colleagues in uniform be given a lift.
But the two soldiers who were given the lift had stopped the lorry on the way and had thrown their weapons and uniforms into a stream by the road and then traveled in the lorry in sarong and shirt, pretending to be cleaners of the vehicle.
After passing the main military Police checkpoints on the road to Colombo the duo had made good their escape.
The SLA tightened security on the main road from Batticaloa to Polonnaruwa in April-May this year following the fall of the Elephant Pass camp. The army pulled out many troops from the east for deployment in Jaffna during this period. This prompted several soldiers in the Batticaloa district to desert their positions, fearing duty in the war zones of the north.
Hence the heightened state of security on the main road from Batticaloa to Polonnaruwa by the SLA's Military Police which had to routinely check all civilian transport vehicles for deserters during the period.