Unenthused paramilitary turns in some weapons

[TamilNet, Friday, 22 March 2002, 19:49 GMT]
The People's Liberation Organization of Thamil Eelam (PLOTE), a paramilitary group operating with the Sri Lanka army, handed over some of its weapons in Batticaloa, Friday under the terms of the cease-fire agreement between the Liberation Tigers and Colombo. Mr. Raj Maama, the PLOTE chief in the eastern district told TamilNet that the weapons handed over today were from the group's camp at the Black Bridge entry point 18 kilometres north of Batticaloa.

Paramilitary groups working under the aegis of the SLA in the northeast are yet to start surrendering all the weapons in their possession despite a key provision in the MoU which requires Colombo to disarm them.

Mr. Maama said he handed over 27 weapons, including T-56 and T-81 assault rifles, light machine guns, ammunition and grenades, to the SLA at its 23-3 Brigade headquarters in Batticaloa town.

He said that his cadres in the town and at the Vavunthivu entry point remain armed and that handing over their weapons will be conditional.

Meanwhile, the EPDP in Batticaloa claimed that it has handed over 10 T-56 assault rifles, 7 pistols, rounds and grenades in its possession in the eastern town. The group's spokesman in Batticaloa, Mr. Paraneetharan said that the arms might be handed over on Sunday 24 March, depending on "the circumstances".

Most of the weapons with the paramilitary groups in the Northeast and in Colombo were issued by the SLA since 1990 for counter insurgency operations. However, human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have accused the paramilitaries of widespread torture, extortion, murder and intimidation in areas controlled by the SLA.

No one including the SLA knows the exact number of weapons in the possession of the paramilitaries. SLA sources say that the groups still retain clandestinely weapons which were issued to them by the Indian army in 1987-1990.

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