Truce monitors saw Karuna cadres in Army area - report
[TamilNet, Friday, 08 April 2005, 18:02 GMT]
The head of the international ceasefire monitors supervising Sri Lanka’s three year old ceasefire told a President Commission investigating deadly attacks on members and supporters LTTE that cadres of an anti-LTTE paramilitary group had been seen operating in a government-held area, a Reuters report said Friday.
Steen Jorgensen, head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) in the eastern district of Batticaloa, testified on Wednesday before a presidential commission that he had seen fighters loyal to a renegade LTTE commander Karuna near a Sri Lankan military base in the region.
Jorgensen testified that he had "seen armed Karuna supporters" in the government controlled area of Welikanda according to the testimony obtained by Reuters on Thursday.
The SLMM confirmed Jorgensen's testimony but declined to comment on it, Reuters reported.
The agency quoted “analysts and diplomatic sources” as saying the revelation was worrying because it suggested the Army was turning a blind eye to the Karuna Group.
"We are looking into this. We have stepped up patrols in the area and ... we're looking into this camp and a lot of other allegations about Karuna supporters and also the killings," SLMM spokeswoman Helen Olafsdottir, told Reuters.
The LTTE has accused Sri Lankan military intelligence of orchestrating a murderous campaign against its cadres and supporters, using paramilitaries – including the Karuna Group.
An Army spokesman told Reuters the military has cut off all ties with paramilitary groups since the truce came into effect in Feburary 2002 and denied helping the Karuna faction, either directly or indirectly.
But the military’s denials of backing for the anti-LTTE paramilitaries were disproved last month when reporters of The Sunday Leader newspaper visited a large camp of the Karuna Group in a Sri Lanka Army controlled region in the eastern province.
Gunmen loyal to Karuna have been operating from a camp at Thivichchenei, in the military-controlled Polonnarauwa District for the last seven months, an investigation by The Sunday Leader revealed.
Roads connect Thivichchenei to another village further north, Omadiyamadu, yet another base used by Karuna cadres, the Sunday Leader reported.