Protesters paralyse Jaffna
By Chris Kamalendran
The Jaffna peninsula was tense yesterday as some angry residents took to the streets to protest against the killing of two youths in Velvettithurai. As the protesters became unruly, security forces fired shots into the air and closed the A-9 road at Muhamalai. Police said a youth who was hit by a bullet was rushed to hospital.

All transport services came to a standstill while shops and other businesses remained shut. Angry protesters burnt tyres and pelted stones at security forces and the police when they tried to bring the situation under control.

Residents claimed that the two youths were playing football when two soldiers in civvies wearing full-face helmets arrived at the scene and opened fire. However, military spokesman Daya Ratnayake has denied the allegation.

Jaffna commander Maj. General Sunil Tennakoon said the two youths were killed in a crossfire when two LTTE cadres fired at an EPDP member who was watching the football match. He said the LTTE was now trying to blame the Army for the killing.

The killing of the youths in the birthplace of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran took place a few hours after LTTE's Jaffna political leader Illamparithy met Jaffna Security Forces commander Sunil Tennekoon to discuss the security situation. The killings have also marred celebrations being organised to mark the 50th birthday of the LTTE leader.

In a related development, yesterday's Budget debate was suspended when TNA members took to the well to protest against the Valvettithurai killings after TNA leader R. Sampanthan was refused permission to make a statement.

JVP Parliamentary Group leader Wimal Weerawansa objected to special statements being made during Budget debates and UNP MP Gayantha Karunathilake who was in the Chair agreed.

Apparently infuriated by this decision, the TNA members took to the well, demanding that the Army should be pulled out of Jaffna and the killers be brought to justice. Amidst pandemonium, sittings were suspended for ten minutes.

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