Residents fearful of further reprisals

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 06 January 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The situation in Veeramunai continues to be tense as friends and colleagues ofthe Muslim Homeguard shot dead by the Liberation Tigers have threatened the people here with severe retaliation.

The homeguard, on duty near a transformer, had been killed in a shoot-out with the

Liberation Tigers on January 3 rd. Other homeguards had attacked Veeramunai

residents in retaliation, killing two people, shortly afterwards.

Tamils living near the village's border with Sammanthurai moved further into

the interior last night, fearing further reprisals by the homeguards.

The homeguards are an auxiliary, paramilitary force which is armed with assault

rifles and operates closely with the Sri Lankan Police, usually to supplement

the security forces which are short of manpower in some disputed areas in the

eastern province.

Sinhala home guards are deployed along with the Sri Lankan army in several

Sinhala border villages of the east.

Tamil residents have complained that homeguards raised to work along with the

Police in the Muslim towns of the east, particularly those which are located

between or next to Tamil villages, are ex-Jihad group militants who had taken

part in anti-Tamil violence in the past.

Several extremist Islamic groups sprang up in the Batticaloa and Ampara

districts in the early eighties, inspired by the Iranian revolution, styling

themselves as Jihad and in one instance (in Sammanthurai) as Hisbollah.


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