2ND LEAD

Gunmen open fire at Hindu chief priest, sons in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Saturday, 11 December 2010, 18:17 GMT]
The Chief Priest of Murukamoorththi Temple in Changkaanai of Valikaamam and his two sons were fatally injured Saturday evening when unknown gunmen, who attempted to rob the temple, opened fire on them. 56-year-old Niththiyantha Sharma, the chief priest and 32-year-old Sivananda Sharma and 27-year-old Jegananda Sharma, were rushed to Jaffna Teaching Hospital and admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, medical sources in Jaffna said. Meanwhile, civilian movement has been heavily restricted in Changkaanai by the Sri Lankan military that has rounded up the area, residents said. Journalists are denied access to the area. Recently, a temple musician playing Naathasvaram at a temple in A'laveddi in Valikaamam was also fired at by gunmen.

The gunmen, who came in bicycles attempted to rob the properties at the famous temple, between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m., after evening poosai (routine ritual).

The chief priest was shot at by the gunmen, when the priest confronted the robbers. His sons who rushed to the spot from their houses in the vicinity were also wounded.

Another civilian escaped from the gunmen after giving them what he and his daughter had in their possession.

Meanwhile, civilians reaching the area of Saturday's incident have been held up at various places by the Sri Lankan military.

Hindu temples and their functionaries have become the target for attack and robbery in Jaffna in recent times.

Recently, a Sinhala gang from the south attempted to rob a state-owned bank in Thenmaraadchi. While the police of Chavakachcheari told journalists that the robbers were from the south, the Police officials in Colombo were trying to cover up the identities of the robbers by saying that the robbers came from Ki'linochchi.

Temple properties, including images in the sanctums, have been robbed in the High Security Zone areas in Valikaamam.

Temples were intimidated not to toll bells on the Heroes Day, 27 November. They were asked to lower the bells from the temple belfrys.

Fearing reprisals, many temple authorities carried out the order of the military.


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