Sri Lanka’s military on Friday shot dead three men during an operation against suspected Tamil separatist rebels, in the first major confrontation since the end of the island’s war nearly five years ago, a spokesman said.
Military spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said troops were carrying out a cordon and search operation in a jungle area of the former war zone when three men armed with grenades and guns tried to escape.
“They tried to break the cordon and we opened fire and killed three people,” Wanigasooriya told AFP.
He said it was the first major shooting since government forces wiped out the top leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009 and declared an end to the 37-year-long war over a homeland for the ethnic Tamil minority.
The military carried out the pre-dawn operation in the sparsely populated jungles of Nedunkerni — in the north of the island — based on information from the police Terrorist Investigation Department, which was looking for three men who were believed to be remnants of the Tamil Tigers, he said.
The exact identity of the three people was not immediately clear, but Wanigasooriya said a magisterial inquiry would be held shortly.
He said that a soldier had also been killed in the island’s north, but that death was unrelated to the jungle shootings.
Before the latest incidents, police had already appealed for information on a 31-year-old Tamil man they believe is trying to reignite the Tigers movement.
They have offered a reward of a million rupees ($7,600) for information leading to the arrest of Kajadeepan Ponniah Selvanayagam, who is thought to be an emerging Tigers leader.He and another man identified as Nawaratnam Navaneethan, 36, had been accused of opening fire and injuring a police officer in the north of Sri Lanka last month.The latest incident came a day after police announced they had detained 60 people, including 10 women, in connection with attempts to reactivate the Tiger movement.AFP
Courtesy: The Hindu