Villagers harassed by Razeek group and SLA

[TamilNet, Sunday, 11 January 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Three civilians were arrested and detained this morning in Batticaloa during a cordon and search operation by the army in Punnaichcholai, a village on the outskirts of the town.

Sources said that their identity is still not known. But they said they were men from other parts of the district who married and settled in Punnaichcholai.

The village was ravaged by the Razeek group yesterday. Armed soldiers of the group caught and severely beat up all the males who they could find in the village. Some girls were also not spared said a resident.

A youth who was trampled and kicked on the chest is being treated for severe internal injuries.

The Sri Lankan army in Batticaloa claims that the LTTE is active in Punnaichcholai and uses it as a base for carrying out small scale operations and political work in the Batticaloa town and its environs.

The village is strategically located by the Batticaloa lagoon's estuary.

Hence, it is accessible by sea and lagoon and also by the beach to the north where the SLA has no presence.There are also a string of small but dense marshes nearby.

The SLA and the Police are not too keen to secure the village by establishing a detachment here as they feel that the place is too vulnerable.

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