New Army fortifications in Jaffna
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 09 July 2002, 13:44 GMT]
The Sri Lanka armed forces are hurriedly building fortifications and expanding their bases in the Jaffna peninsula while public buildings vacated by the military remain beyond the public use as the surrounding areas are declared high security zones, Tamil press reports said last week.
A new formidable defence line was being constructed by the Sri Lanka army half a mile behind their forward defence lines (FDLs) in Eluthumadduval. The area was the scene of the last large scale clash between the two sides last year. A large number of palmyra and coconut palms are being cut down for the construction of bunkers and trenches.
Sri Lankan troops from the 53 and 55 Divisions are meanwhile reinforcing their positions in the high security zone stretching from Muhamalai to Murusuvil.
More military positions are being put up in Sangathanai rail station lane, Chavakachcheri, Kodikamam junction, Nunavil, Kaithady and Navatrkuli near bridges and culverts. A large base is under construction in Nunavil that has taken in vast areas of farmland and private houses.
The Sri Lanka army last Saturday declared that Amban, located on the southeastern coast of Jaffna, is now a 'high security zone' . The troops are currently based in a village hospital there, as well as Maruthankerni Assistant Government Agent's office and Agricultural Services Centre. The SLA took over a public library and six homes in Thumpalai East near Pt.Pedro town Friday to set up defence positions in the area.
Meanwhile special commissions set up to investigate the removal of Sri Lanka's armed forces from schools, places of worship and public and private buildings in the Tamil north and east under the terms of the ceasefire agreement have started their work in the Jaffna peninsula and Vavuniya.
The groups, set up following talks between Tamil MPs and the Sri Lanka Prime Minister, have also visited sites in Mannar. They consist of Tamil National Alliance members on civilians' behalf and Sri Lanka army officials on the government's behalf.
The commission said in a statement to the press that though the armed forces have vacated many buildings in Jaffna, they still could not be used by civilians as the areas these were sited in are being deemed high security zones. The civilian representatives, Mr. C. V. K. Sivagnanam, Mr. K. Chandrarajah and Dr S. Arulanandam, said the moves by the army have been "merely cosmetic."
Palaly, Mandaitivu, areas from Ariyalai and Columbothurai towards Thanankilappu and areas from Eluthumadduval to Nagarkovil currently also fall within high security zones and the buildings vacated by the armed forces there hence cannot be properly used by the public.