Monitors urge public restraint after Kanjirankudah deaths

[TamilNet, Thursday, 10 October 2002, 13:15 GMT]
International ceasefire monitors Thursday urged public restraint in the wake of a violent demonstration at the Special Task Force (STF) camp in Kanjirankudah at which the police commandos shot dead seven people and wounded fourteen others. Although the STF alleged Liberation Tigers were part of the 500-1000 strong crowd, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) said it “has no evidence of this at this time and nothing indicates that the LTTE leadership knew of this attack beforehand.”

The full text of the press release from the Press and Information officer, Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) follows:

"Seven people tragically lost their lives and fourteen people were injured when a large crowd of people forcefully entered the Kanjirankudah STF (Special Task Force of the Sri Lanka Police) camp south of Thirukkovil shortly after 17.00 on Wednesday. A demonstration of an estimated 500-1000 people crowd outside the camp got out of control when the crowd broke through the main entrance and a barbed wire fence and entered the camp. According to the STF officer in command of the camp, the members of the crowd were throwing stones, burning tyres and shooting with firearms. The STF used teargas and fired rubberbullets at the crowd and eventually fired at the people with live ammunition.

SLMM Monitors arrived at the camp before 20.00 and found three bodies inside the camp and one body 5 metres outside the camp's fences. SLMM findings indicate that these 4 people had lost their lives exactly where their bodies were found. After initial examination it was thought that one of the dead persons was a member of the LTTE, due to his clothing. However, now it is thought that this person was a civilian, as his clothes were only similar, but not the same as the LTTE cadres frequently wear. SLMM Monitors observed that most things that could burn on the outside of the camp were still on fire at that time and tyres were still burning inside the camp. Communications antenna and lights belonging to the camp were damaged and windows broken in houses inside the camp. One assault rifle was also found on the ground outside the camp.

SLMM Monitors in Ampara district have confirmed that seven people from the crowd died during and after the attack on the STF camp. Furthermore, fourteen people are confirmed as injured and are in Hospital in the town of Kalmunai. According to a medical officer in Kalmunai Hospital seven of them have bullet wounds but all are expected to be discharged in 2-3 days. Today, unidentified members of the public have establish some roadblocks with burning tyres in this area on the East Coast. The situation has remained very tense but so far without violent incidents. The Officer in Command of the STF camp has stated that there were LTTE members from the Rufus Kulam camp in the attacking crowd. SLMM has no evidence of this at this time and nothing indicates that the LTTE leadership knew of this attack beforehand.

"This is a tragic event and extremely sad loss of lives" says Major General Trond Furuhovde, Head of SLMM. "Because of an uncontrolled demonstration people are now griefing their loved ones. During only one night, Hope and Reconciliation is turned into fear and uncertainty. This calls for the restraint of the people and courage to keep our will for peace alive through these difficult times. The actions of everyone now must show that we can make these losses bearable by trying to contribute what we can to peace and a better future. This is truly a tragedy, but it emphasises that not only the parties of the conflict, but each and every person in Sri Lanka is responsible for making a lasting peace a reality in this country." Due to these events, Head of SLMM will be in Ampara and Batticaloa districts on Friday and Saturday."


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