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13 Sinhala civilians killed in East Lanka

The local police have blamed the LTTE for the killing, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 00:46 IST

Thirteen Sinhala irrigation project workers in the Eastern district of Sri Lanka were shot and cut to death by unidentified assailants on Monday, reports reaching here said.

The brutal killings took place in the Sinhala-settler village of Rantharathenna in Omadiyamadu, 10 kms north of Welikanda, on the border between the Tamil-speaking district of Batticaloa and the Sinhala-speaking district of Pollonaruwa.

The assailants burnt the huts in the village, forcing 75 Sinhala settlers to flee to Welikanda, said the pro-LTTE website www.puthinam.com.

The local police blamed the LTTE for the killing. The President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, condemned the slaughter.

But the LTTE has denied involvement.

"We don't kill civilians," said a report quoting S Puleedevan, Head of the LTTE's Peace Secretariat.

The LTTE's media spokesman, Thaya Master, was quoted by the Tamilnet website as saying that the killings were "designed and executed" by forces seeking to "marginalize" the LTTE, after the European Union's decision to ban it.

Thaya Master also said that the breakaway LTTE group led by Karuna had been making use of the Omadiyamadu village.

The LTTE accuses the government of supporting the Karuna group.

The reasons for the killing are now known. But Tamil militants, including the LTTE, have for long been against state-sponsored colonisation of what they consider "The Tamil Homeland" in the North and East.

Second major incident involving civilians

This is the second major incident since last Saturday in which civilians had been killed.

On Saturday, seven Sri Lankan tourists, including noted writer Nihal de Silva, author of the award-winning novel on the ethnic conflict Road From Elephant Pass were killed in a mine blast in the Wilpattu wildlife sanctuary in North West Sri Lanka.

The killings came even as the European Union banned the LTTE on Monday, and the Co-Chairs of the Tokyo Development Conference issued a statement on Tuesday, reprimanding both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE for not doing enough to bring peace to the island country.

Over 300 Sri Lankan armed forces personnel, Tamil militants and innocent civilians have been killed since April.

First Published: May 30, 2006 21:33 IST