Lankan army fired at chief truce monitor: LTTE | india | Hindustan Times
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Lankan army fired at chief truce monitor: LTTE

The army shelled the Pooneryn jetty even as the chief of the Nordic truce monitoring mission was there, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2006 22:43 IST

The Sri Lankan Army on Wednesday shelled the Pooneryn jetty in north Sri Lanka even as the chief of the Nordic truce monitoring mission Lars Solvberg was there, the LTTE's Peace Secretariat said in a statement.

One shell fell within 10 metres of the place where Solvberg was standing, the statement said.

In spite of the fact that the army's artillery guns were less than a kilometre way on the other side of the lagoon, and the truce monitors' vehicles could be seen through field binoculars, the army kept shelling the jetty area, the LTTE said.

The army lobbed 12 shells over a period of 30 minutes beginning at about 3 pm. The first shell fell 200 metres away from Solvberg. Another fell within 10 metres.

Since the Sri Lankan government and the Army had been told about his visit, Solvberg was not wearing a bullet proof vest or even a helmet.

He had to take shelter in the only bunker on the spot.

"The implication is that the artillery firing was aimed directly at the SLMM Head of Mission," the LTTE's statement said.

The Scandinavian-staffed truce mission is officially known as the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM).

Solvberg was visiting the Pooneryn jetty (also called the Sangupitty jetty) to see if it could be used to transport people and goods to Jaffna in lieu of using the A9 Main Supply Route as suggested by the Sri Lankan government.

The head of the LTTE's Peace Secretariat, S Puleedevan, told Solvberg that this was not a feasible proposition because the jetty had been rendered inoperative by the army's shelling since August and that the road from Mannar to Pooneryn was in a very bad shape.

According to the LTTE, the SLMM chief said that it would take several months to make the jetty serviceable.

The government had suggested the use of the jetty to take goods and people to Jaffna as the Main Supply Route, the A9 highway, could not be opened at Muhamalai for security reasons.

The LTTE, on the other hand, has been demanding that the A9 be opened, as it was the cheapest and shortest route to Jaffna from the South.