Para military groups clash in Vavuniya
[TamilNet, Thursday, 04 February 1999, 10:48 GMT]
Three persons were wounded when armed members of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) and the People's Liberation Organisation Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), para military groups operating with the Sri Lankan security forces, clashed in the northern town of Vavuniya, over a dispute on determining 'tax' on goods.
Hospital sources in Vavuniya said that a PLOTE member, 'Ravi' (34) and a TELO member, also known as 'Ravi' (28) were wounded in the shoot-out.
The PLOTE cadre was shot at around 9.45 p.m. last night at Kurumankaadu, 2 km. west of Vavuniya town. He was brought to the Vavuniya hospital and later transferred to the Anuradhapura hospital.
The TELO cadre was wounded in a shoot out at Vairavapuliyankulam this morning around 9 a.m. He has been admitted to Vavuniya hospital, said the sources.
The sources said that another person known as Rajenthiran who was stabbed at Vairavapuliyankulam this morning was also brought to the hospital.
Residents said that the situation in Vairavapuliyankulam, a densely populated area in Vavuniya town, is tense.
The PLOTE has its main office in Vairavapuliyankulam and TELO's camp is about 500 meters from it.
Sources said armed cadres of the PLOTE and TELO have blocked the road to Vairavapuliyankulam and that civilians are being searched. Local leaders of the para-military groups have told civilians not to move about in the vicinity.
Residents in the area said neither the Police nor the Army have been seen.
The armed para - military groups assist the security forces in their operations. Although the groups are paid they often supplement their incomes by levying tax from people and businesses within areas of Sri Lankan army control.
The groups also control checkpoints on roads leading into Vavuniya town. Taxes are levied from lorries that pass through the checkpoints carrying goods for sale in the town.
The groups member's had quarrelled yesterday after PLOTE supporters hijacked a lorry carrying coconut, said sources in Vavuniya.
Meanwhile the police said that Sri Lanka's 51st Independence Day celebrations at the Vavuniya Kachcheri, Tamil Maha Vidyalayam (school) and at the security forces' camps took place as scheduled without any hindrance.