Tigers deny shutting down civilian crossing
[TamilNet, Monday, 25 June 2001, 11:50 GMT]
The Voice of Tigers radio said in its morning news broadcast Monday that the Liberation Tigers denied a Sri Lanka army report that they had closed the main crossing point to the Vanni. No lorries from the Vanni came to the crossing point for civilians and international humanitarian agencies at Piramanaalankulam, 28 kilometres west of Vavuniya, on Saturday. The SLA Saturday issued a statement that claimed the lorries had not come because the LTTE had closed the crossing. “We are not aware of any disruption in the normal operation of the Piramanaalankulam checkpoint. The question of lorries coming from or going to the Vanni is a matter that comes totally under the purview of the Government Agent, not us”, the press officer of the ICRC, Mr. Harasha Gunawardene, told Tamilnet Monday, referring to the SLA statement which quoted the ICRC as saying no lorries had come from the Vanni on Saturday.
Vavuniya Kachcheri officials said that lorries from the Vanni sometimes do not turn up as scheduled at Piramanaalankulam due lack of drivers, cleaners or other problems.
Meanwhile, additional government agent for Vavuniya, Mr. S. Ragunathapillai, said that there is no transport through the Piramanaalankulam point on Sundays and Poya days. He said that 23 lorries of supplies to the Vanni were sent to the crossing point Monday morning from Vavuniya for ‘cross loading’.
According to Mr. Ragunathapillai, 16 of these lorries carried supplies from the Commissioner General of Essential Services, 5 lorries had essential items for multi-purpose co-operative societies in the Vanni and 2 lorries carried kerosene.
Each loaded lorry is parked for 24 hours at a park under the SLA’s supervision at Eeratperiyakulam, 4 kilometres south of Vavuniya town, before it is permitted to leave for Piramanaalankulam where it is unloaded and the goods are checked by the army.
The checked good are then loaded onto the lorries which come from the Vanni. The SLA does not permit lorries from the Vanni to pass beyond the Piramanaalankulam checkpoint.