Tiger rebels kill a dissident member in East Lanka
The victim, identified as Mailvahanam Kohulam, had fled from the Vakare rebel base and was gunned down in the Batticaloa district.india Updated: Sep 21, 2006 16:02 IST
Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels fatally shot one of their members who broke away from the separatist movement in Sri Lanka's volatile east, the military said on Thursday.
The victim, identified as 22-year-old Mailvahanam Kohulam, had fled from the Vakare rebel base and was gunned down in the Batticaloa district on Wednesday night, said an officer at the Defense Ministry's Media Center for National Security, declining to be named, citing policy.
There was no immediate comment from the rebels. Tamil Tiger separatists have been fighting the Sri Lankan government since 1983 for an independent Tamil homeland and are known for taking ruthless measures to eliminate Opposition.
The rebel movement split in 2004 when an eastern-based military commander named Karuna broke away with 6,000 fighters, a rebellion that was ruthlessly suppressed.
The rebels accuse the military of backing Karuna, a charge the army denies.
The latest killing was reported as police on Thursday morning lifted an 18-hour curfew in the Muslim-dominated Pottuvil area, about 250 kms (155 miles) east of the capital, Colombo.
On Wednesday, 14 people were wounded when police fired on Muslim protesters angered by the massacre on Sunday of 10 labourers.
They blame government special police forces for the killings and have demanded the removal of a local police chief.
"Schools, offices and shops are opened," Adam Bawa, a civilian in Pottuvil, told the agency by phone.
The government and rebels blamed each other for the massacre after the Muslim men's bodies were found on Monday.
Muslims are Sri Lanka's second-largest minority after ethnic Tamils, who are mostly Hindu.
The Muslims generally oppose the Tamil Tiger rebels, who are fighting to carve out a separate Tamil homeland.
The guerrillas accuse Muslims of supporting the government, which is dominated by the country's majority ethnic Sinhalese.
The rebels also oppose Muslims cultivating land in areas they consider Tamil territory.
The Sri Lankan conflict killed more than 65,000 people before a 2002 Norwegian brokered ceasefire which has given way in recent months to all-out fighting in the north and east which has left hundreds more dead.