ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday September 2, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 14

East: Violent face of liberation

By Asif Fuard

Although two months have elapsed since the government declared the East as having been liberated from the LTTE, the people there are facing many forms of violence by new players in the eastern front.

The Sunday Times learns that several police stations have been established in the liberated areas in Batticaloa including Vavunaithivu, Aithiyamalai, Kokadichcholai and Vakarai. Police stations have also come up in Sampur in Trincomalee.

With local government elections scheduled for November there are new security fears confronting the defence establishment facing the challenge of monitoring and controlling many groups including the EPDP, Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pullikal (TMVP) also known as the Karuna faction, the TMVP breakaway Pillayan faction, the Jihad group and the lurking presence of the LTTE.

On Wednesday, Batticaloa resembled a ghost town when shops closed and people rushed home after work as word spread about the assassination of Murali, a senior military commander of the Pillayan faction.

Tension and fears of security gripped Batticaloa town and Kalawanchikudi as his funeral was scheduled to take place in Kalawanchikudi the next day. There were fears that the simmering internal friction within the TMVP could erupt as a result of this latest killing.Murali’s body was brought from Ambuvelipuram in Trincomalee where he had been shot to his hometown in Kalawanchikudi, Batticaloa late Wednesday night accompanied by about a 100 armed Pillayan cadres travelling in 17 vehicles including an ambulance belonging to the state.

An STF senior official said they had tightened security in Batticaloa fearing clashes between cadres loyal to Karuna Amman and Pillayan during the funeral of the slain Murali.“We don’t want to take any chances as we want to nip the problem in the bud before it blows out of all proportion. We tightened security in Batticaloa and Kalawanchikudi fearing clashes between the two groups,” he said. On Monday, two Tamils and a Sinhalese were arrested along with a haul of explosives in the Kalkudah police area. The explosives were believed to have been supplied by an armed group.

The explosives were found hidden in a fishing boat as the suspects prepared to set sail on Monday morning. Among the items seized were three kilograms of C-4 explosives, nine detonators and 25 gelignite sticks. On Thursday afternoon two EPDP cadres were gunned down in Eravur, Batticaloa by suspected LTTE pistol gang members. The two suspects have not been identified.

However, military sources said that one of the gunmen has been identified as an LTTE operative known as Shankar who had been arrested by the army and later released. Early this week a Police constable sustained injuries when a jeep transporting Police personnel was caught in a mine explosion, at Aiyyithimalai in Batticaloa on Tuesday.

In separate incidents in the east Jihad armed men were said to be behind the killing of 29 year old Jeyaraj, a three-wheeler driver, at Jinna Nagar, north of Trincomalee Town on August 20. On the same day, 54 year old S. Thiyagarajan, brother of TNA Batticaloa parliamentarian S. Jeyananthamoorthy was shot dead.

Meanwhile the Eelam Revolutionary Organization (EROS) said they had lost one of their members known within EROS circles as "Gerald" otherwise known as Jeyaraj. EROS claimed he was shot and killed on the evening of August 20, at Jinna Nagar in Trincomalee by a man identified as "Nizam" who is affiliated to a group calling themselves “Jihad” – an armed group comprising mainly Eastern Province Muslims.

This group is also said to be based in parts of Trincomalee, Amparai and Batticaloa. The Sunday Times learns from sources in the East that since recently Jiahd proclaiming themselves as holy warriors of Islam, have started resettling Muslims in Oddamaavadi and adjacent villages.The Jihad armed group reportedly works closely with some Muslim Government Ministers from the East. It is alleged that they are involved in resettling Muslim Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Welikanda in Oddamaavadi in a move to carve out that region as a separate Muslim district.

This matter was brought up in parliament two weeks ago by TNA parliamentarian Jeyananthamoorthy whose brother was killed on August 20. He alleged that the Jihad group was working closely with a minister in the area and that the group was responsible for his brother’s killing. Batticaloa’s Senior Superintended of police H.M.D Herath told The Sunday Times that they have tracked down one of the suspects, who is said to be a key Jihad operative identified as “Police Faiz”.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.