SLMM official: ‘Government must disarm Karuna Group’

[TamilNet, Sunday, 10 April 2005, 17:03 GMT]
The Sunday Times this week published transcripts from the Presidential Commission into the killings of LTTE officials and supporters in Sri Lanka’s restive east, in which the head of the international ceasefire monitors in Batticaloa, Mr. Steen Joergensen, confirmed the presence of anti-LTTE paramilitaries in government-held areas. However, the Sri Lanka Army's senior most officer in Batticaloa, Brigadier Laksiri Amaratunge, denied the charge.

Mr. Joergensen told the Presidential commission that he could confirm the presence of Karuna forces in the government held territories. The transcript of his interview, published by the Sunday Times follow:

Q. How many LTTE paramilitary groups are there in the area? A. To my knowledge the only paramilitary group is The Karuna faction which is a breakaway group of the LTTE.

Q. Where does it operate? A. It operates near the Welikanda area

Q. Does this area come under the government controlled area? A. Yes. It comes under the government controlled area.

Q. Was this group formed after the signing of the CFA? A. It was formed after the signing of the CFA, when 'Col'. Karuna was expelled by the LTTE on 6.03.2004

Q. Does this group get any help from the Sri Lanka army? A. I do not know.

Q. Is it a violation of the CFA to have Karuna forces in government- controlled areas? A. Yes, it is a violation. According to the CFA, Tamil paramilitary groups should be disarmed.

Q. Is it the responsibility of the government to disarm them? A. Yes. It is the government's responsibility to disarm all auxiliary forces according to the CFA.

Q. Has there been a request by the LTTE to disarm them? A. Yes and I have informed the SLMM head in Colombo, Mr. Hauckland

Q. Has he responded to your request? A. I am not aware of what steps were taken by them.

Q. Can you roughly say when you informed the SLMM? A. I informed the Colombo Head Quarters on 21.03.2005

Q. Do you accept that there have been continuing attacks against the LTTE? A. Yes

Q. Can you tell me how future attacks against the LTTE could be prevented? A. In my opinion the LTTE and Sri Lanka army must have a close dialogue to prevent these attacks.

The Commander of the 223 Brigade, Brigadier Laksiri Amaratunge, however, denied assisting the Karuna Group in its attacks on the LTTE. Extracts from his interview to the Presidential Commission follow:

Q: Is the Army assisting or harbouring the Karuna faction? A: No we are not aiding or harbouring the Karuna fraction.

Q: Are you aware that the Karuna faction is operating in government controlled areas? A: Breakaway Karuna faction cadres are operating in LTTE controlled areas.

Q: Are there any Karuna faction camps located in government controlled Welikanda area? A: There are no such camps in the Welikanda area.

 

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