Anti-STF protests erupt on southeast coast

[TamilNet, Thursday, 23 May 2002, 19:38 GMT]
More than ten thousand students from 52 schools in the Thirukkovil education zone, 78 kilometres south of Batticaloa, marched and demonstrated Thursday against the Special Task Force (STF), the elite counter insurgency arm of Sri Lanka's defence establishment. Angry protestors who came out in support of the students blocked traffic on 34 kilometres of the main road on the island's southeast coast by burning tires at key junctions between Neelavanai and Akkaraipattu.

The market and shops were closed in Kalmunai, the main town of the region, 40 kilometres south of Batticaloa. The STF shot and wounded a student during a demonstration in Thirukkovil Wednesday.

"There is more than 17 years of pent up anger against the STF in these parts. The commando force was a law unto itself all these days," said Mr. Vivekanandan, a journalist in Thambiluvil. The STF is encamped in the premises of the Thirukkovil district hospital.

A bus was parked across the main road by some protestors in Pandiruppu, 37 kilometres south of Batticaloa, to block the traffic. (Photo: TamilNet)

About two thousand parents also took part in the March and protest against the STF in the Thambiluvil - Thirukkovil area Thursday.

Thousands of students shouting slogans against the STF began the protest march from Thambiluvil Sarasvathi Vidyalayam to Vinayagapuram in the morning.

Meanwhile, in Kalmunai, Pandiruppu, Neelavanai, Karaithivu and Akkaraipattu crowds protesting against the STF set fire to piles of tires on the main coastal road.

A bus was parked across the main road by some protestors in Pandiruppu, 37 kilometres south of Batticaloa, to block the traffic.

The Sri Lanka Police attempted unsuccessfully to diffuse the situation with the assistance of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission later in the day.

A spokesman for the Eastern University society in Batticaloa said Thursday evening that a general shut down has been called in the eastern district tomorrow to protest against STF atrocities.

Tires burning at main junction in Akkaraipattu town. (Photo: TamilNet)

Main road blocked by protestors in Pandiruppu with a bus and tires set on fire. (Photo: TamilNet)

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