Govt. info Department confirms shootout

[TamilNet, Friday, 10 March 2000, 17:30 GMT]
The Sri Lankan Governemnt Information Department's central news desk issued a communique on the incident in Borella this evening. The communique indicated that there had been fighting in the area following the explosion.

The following is the full text of the statement.

"At about 6 p.m. today (10) a civilian came up to the Police vehicle checkpoint near the round-about situated opposite the Ayurvedha Hospital, Rajagiriya (near Royal Park junction) and informed the Police that there is a suspicious person armed with an automatic weapon in a nearby boutique.

Thereafter two Policemen had gone to check up the information. At that time, the remaining Police officer who was at the check point heard an explosion followed with small arms firing. Immediately after that the officers from the Rajagiriya STF (Special Task Force) camp rushed to the scene from two directions and opened fire at suspected LTTE suicide cadres, killing three of them on the spot who were firing at the Police.

Due to this confrontation and bomb explosion eighteen persons have been killed out of whom six were Police officers. Thirty persons including two Policemen who were injured in this incident were admitted to the National hospital. Eight vehicles including a STF jeep were damaged.

The Police have captured the following weapons:01 T56, 02 hand grenades, 02 suicide bomb jackets, 02 disposable rocket propelled grenades, 01 timing device, 04 T56 magazines, 01 ammunition belt with large number of live ammunition.

Security forces are jointly conducting a cordon and search operation around the area. Security in the area has been tightened. Investigations are in progress" the Government Information Department Communique states.

Police sources said that following information that five of the suspected attackers may have hidden inside a block of apartments (flats) near the scene of the attack people living there are being evacuated by the security forces.

Meanwhile the Amnesty International issued a statement Friday evening condemning the attack at Borella.

"The civilians were reportedly killed while members of the LTTE -- armed with rocket-propelled grenades -- shot indiscriminately through busy traffic. The LTTE members were fleeing after a failed attack thought to have been aimed at an as yet unidentified dignitary returning from parliament.

"Both the security forces and the LTTE must respect the lives of civilians in the area," Amnesty International said.

Members of the Sri Lanka's rapid deployment force rush to the site of an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Friday, March, 10, 2000.Photo:AP


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