Militant Islamic group emerges

[TamilNet, Saturday, 05 September 1998, 10:59 GMT]
A Muslim militant organisation calling itself the PLO is attempting to foment violence against Tamils in Akkaraipattu, on the south eastern coast of the Amparai district said sources there.

The PLO issued leaflets threatening Tamils and prohibiting them from entering the Muslim dominated part of the town. More than four thousand workers in the Tamil quarter of Akkaraipattu town have been affected by the threats of the Islamic militants, said residents of the south-eastern town this evening.

Informed sources in Akkaraipattu said that PLO is a group formed by elements of the armed Islamic Jihad (Holy War) which was behind the anti-Tamil pogroms in Akkaraipattu in 1985 and 1990, in which a large section of the Tamil quarter of the town was burnt and destroyed, including the Paththirakaaliyamman temple.

The PLO (no one is certain about what the acronym stands for) demanded in a leaflet that the Liberation Tigers should forthwith withdraw all their activities in the area, especially the collection of paddy from the rice fields south of the town.

Tamils residents here claimed this afternoon that the PLO appears to have the tacit backing of the local Sri Lankan Police and Special Task Force commando units.

They said that PLO cropped up in the wake of the Liberation Tigers ceasing their operations in the area recently. The STF apprehended a Tiger activist some weeks ago who knew, according to informed sources, the strategic transit point used by the rebels to reach their base in the Kanjikudichcha Aaru jungles which begin about 15 kilometres Southwest of Akkaraipattu town.

On the strength of this breakthrough, the STF commandos, according to informed sources, ambushed and killed twenty LTTE members at this transit point in the course of a single week and recovered some equipment.

The LTTE had temporarily halted its activities in Akkaraipattu following this development.

Tamils in this eastern town allege that this is what encouraged the hitherto dormant Islamic militants to raise their voice again in Akkaraipattu.

However, a well informed local Muslim source who is aquainted with the PLO peremptorily dismissed these allegations today. He claimed that there was no truth in the insinuation that the PLO was backed by the STF and Sri Lankan Police.

He said "the PLO is an independent organisation which is only interested in the cause of Islam here and comprises committed youth who were re-inspired in their holy mission by the heroic actions of Osama Bin Laden."

He declined to reveal the identity of the Akkaraipattu PLO's convenor but charged that the LTTE is a CIA backed terrorist group.

Meanwhile, 'Sooriyan', the Colombo based Tamil FM radio station said in its evening news broadcast today that Muslim and Tamil community leaders in the eastern town are exploring means of diffusing the tension caused by the PLO in Akkaraipattu.


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