SLA op. scares civilians from Batticaloa interior

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 10 April 2001, 12:31 GMT]
People from the interior of the northwestern hinterland of Batticaloa began moving out of their hamlets from early morning Tuesday fearing an operation by the Sri Lanka army against the positions of the Liberation Tigers in Thoppikkal and Tharavai. Families in Miyankalkulam and Tharavai abandoned their homesteads and began arriving Tuesday morning in Thihilivettai, a village close to the SLA controlled main coastal road, 25 kilometers north of Batticaloa with their personal belongings and cattle.

The army warned civilians in Batticaloa early last week to move away from the military camps of the Liberation Tigers because operations against their positions were imminent.

Mr. S Thangarasa, a farmer who came to Thihilivettai this morning said that the army operation was in the area east of the Thoppikkal hill.

Others from his village said that heavy shelling preceded the operation and they feared that the army might move towards Tharavai junction where the Liberation Tigers have some installations and a large war memorial.

The SLA in Batticaloa has reinforced its camps on the northern and southern Main Supply Routes into the district following reports that some senior members of the Liberation Tigers have come from the Vanni to the east.

The army also severely restricted the movement of civilians, schoolteachers and government officials to the district's large hinterland that is controlled by the Liberation Tigers.


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