Fury after worship is blocked

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 11 June 2002, 06:22 GMT]
Devotees who were prevented from travelling through a Sri Lanka army checkpoint in Omanthai staged an impromptu protest opposite the offices of the International Committee of Red Cross Monday. Over three hundred people were denied passage through the checkpoint after 1 pm for the annual Pongal festival at the Nagathambiran temple in Puthur.

Many lit incense opposite the ICRC office and smashed coconuts while some set free cockerels they had brought as an offering to the gods. The protesters blamed the ICRC of inaction in getting them to Puthur and smashed some lights on the perimeter wall and stoned the gates.

The Sri Lanka Army had stopped around thirty-five vehicles, saying they could not pass after 1pm. ICRC officials are tasked with the movement of civilian between the LTTE and army lines in Omanthai. They work until 5 pm and are required to return to their homes by 6 pm at the latest.

ICRC officials said while they escorted civilians it was for the LTTE and the Sri LAnka army to decide whether or not to let people through.


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