MSR patrol wounds woman

[TamilNet, Sunday, 03 June 2001, 12:49 GMT]
A woman was injured when Sri Lanka Army soldiers on a route-clearing operation from Vaakaneri camp, about 37 kilometres north of Batticaloa town on the Colombo highway, fired at random on either side of the road. The incident occured at Aalankulam, around 8 a.m. Sunday morning. Aalankulam is about 2 km. north of Vaakaneri. The SLA camp at Vaakeneri is one of the key points on the sole Main Supply Route linking the 23 division headquarters with two of its brigades (23-2 and 23-3) which hold the coast of the Batticaloa district from Valaichenai to Batticaloa town.

The Liberation Tigers control the hinterland of the districtís northern sector which lies on either side of the MSR between the Welikanda and Valaichenai.

The SLA maintains eight camps on this MSR between the two minor towns. Most of the camps are now defended either by single platoons or sections as a consequence of regular troop reductions in this sector to meet manpower needs in the north. The Vaakaneri camp is held by a company.

Troops defending the MSR between Welikanda and Valaichenai do not stay in their camps at night, fearing attacks by the Liberation Tigers. Dispersing into the surrounding area at night with the meagre arsenal of the camps would leave nothing worthwhile for attacking LTTE forces, the SLA says. Most camps on this MSR are made of mud structures which have begun to crumble due to poor maintenance.

The troops return to their positions early in the morning to clear the road for traffic. The MSR is closed after 5.30 p.m. and is opened for traffic after 6.30 a.m. in the morning.

The woman was cleaning the compound in front of her hut when she was hit by the SLA route clearing partyís random firing, according to the sources. The woman, identified as S.Thangamany, 37, was admitted to the Valaichenai hospital and later sent to the Batticaloa teaching hospital, said sources.


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