Massacre in eastern Tamil village: 8 killed
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 24 September 1997, 12:05 GMT]
Muslim policemen and homeguards have run amok in a Tamil village, killing at least 8 civilians. The surviving residents of the "4th colony" village, Amparai district, have fled the area. The attack is believed to have been carried out in reprisal for the killing of two Muslim homeguards. The 4th Colony has been sealed off by members of the Special Task Force, a police commando unit, which controls the area where the massacre took place.
A large contingent of Muslim homeguards had stormed the 4th Colony village, torching houses and attacking the Tamil occupants. At least 8 Tamil civilians are believed to have been killed, and some reports speak of at least 15 deaths.
Sri Lankan government officials say the attack was in retaliation for the killing of a policeman by the Tamil Tigers on Tuesday. However, local residents dispute this and claim that violence between the Special Task Force and Muslim paramilitaries and policemen had preceded the massacre.
According to residents, a Tamil youth walking on a road in Central Camp town had been stopped and assaulted by Muslim policemen. Nearby STF personnel had investigated the disturbance and an altercation had followed between the Muslim police and members of the STF. The boy had been released.
Sometime later, STF commandos had opened fire on Muslim homeguards in the area, killing two gunmen.
On the assumption that the home guards had been killed by Tamil Tiger fighters, a large number of incensed Muslims, including policemen, homeguards and thugs had attacked the main concentration of Tamils in the area, the 4th Colony. Several houses are said to have been set on fire and the occupants killed.
The surviving residents of the village had fled to the nearby village of Chenaikundiruppu, where they are said to be sheltering in a school. The residents of Chenaikundiruppu are also mainly Tamils.
The STF has sealed off the 4th Colony. The entire region, encompassing Central Camp, 4th Colony, Chenaikundiruppu and many other villages is under the control of the Special Task Force. Muslim policemen and homeguards are deployed in the area as well. Some of the colonies are mainly Muslim and others mainly Sinhalese. A few are Tamil.
There are no Tamil homeguards, and Tamil residents of the area are vulnerable to attack by the Sinhala and Muslim paramilitaries. The Sri Lankan government claims that the STF had intervened on behalf of the Tamils this time, and was now providing security.
These reports cannot be confirmed. However, the STF has also been responsible for widespread atrocities against the Tamils of Amparai and Batticaloa. At least 5000 Tamil civilians have been killed by STF troopers who have also been blamed for hundreds of cases of torture, assault and rape.