Missing Vaakarai youth said killed by SLA

[TamilNet, Thursday, 07 June 2001, 06:10 GMT]
Three youths who were reported missing after they were arrested by a Sri Lanka army deep penetration team in Vaakarai, 64 kilometres north of Batticaloa on 22 May, are dead, according to relatives. The Sri Lanka army's 23-2 brigade had informed the ICRC on Wednesday that the three men were killed. However, the army had not told the ICRC how or where the men had been killed. Last week the SLA informed the Human Rights Commission office in Batticaloa that they were not aware of the whereabouts of the three men.

Relatives of the men had informed the ICRC that the three men were missing after they were arrested by an SLA deep penetration team. The ICRC, however, was unable to trace the men despite three weeks of inquiries.

The three youth, Murugan Mangaleswaran, 24, Ramalingam Subramaniam, 24, Velmurugu Selvarajah, 20, were arrested and taken away by a deep penetration team of the SLA while they were gathering firewood and honey in Maruthankernikkulam, west of Vaakarai on 22 May.

Yoganathan Kesavarajah, 24, who was with them, was shot dead at the spot by the SLA team.

Relatives of the three youth who had run to the area upon hearing gunfire had seen the SLA soldiers dragging them away.

Residents of Vaakarai and villages in its large hinterland say that SLA's special deep penetration teams often come into this region.

The area is under the control of the Liberation Tigers. They say that deep penetration teams operate from SLA camps at Karadikkulam and Welikanda which are more than 20-30 kilometres from the hinterland of Vaakarai. These special SLA groups have arrested and killed civilians found gathering honey or chopping fire wood in the jungles and shrub of Vaakarai's sparsely populated hinterland.

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