SLA closes Vavuniya, Uyilankulam, Madhu checkpoints

[TamilNet, Saturday, 12 August 2006, 12:37 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Saturday morning closed the entry points to and from LTTE held areas in Omanthai, Vavuniya, and in the Mannar district at Uyilankulam and Madhu junction until further notice. Madhu church is located in LTTE held area. Madhu junction is the gateway to Madhu Church located in LTTE area. Due to the closure of the Madhu junction entry point about ten thousand pilgrims who have already gone to attend the annual Madhu church festival are unable to leave for their hometowns in the south and elsewhere in the country, sources said.

Hundreds of civilians are also stranded at both sides of the Omanthai checkpoint, civil society sources said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of pilgrims who arrived at Madhu junction to go to Madhu church to attend annual festival were also turned away Saturday morning by the SLA soldiers stating that the entry point is closed until further notice.

Mannar Bishop Rt.Rev.Rayappu made an appeal to SLA authorities to open the Madhu junction entry point enabling pilgrims to attend the festival and leave to their areas without interruption. But SLA authorities refused to accede to the appeal, sources said.

The SLA authorities informed the Bishop that they would consider his appeal to reopen the Madhu junction checkpoint after August 15 to allow the pilgrims already in Madhu Church to leave for their hometowns. The Madhu festival which commenced last week is to come to a conclusion on August 15, sources said.

Uyilankulam SLA checkpoint is the gateway to LTTE held Wanni region. With the closure of the Uyilankulam checkpoint large numbers of civilians are trapped in the areas controlled by government and LTTE, sources said.

 

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