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Muslims flee Mutur after alleged Tigers' warning

Hundreds of Muslim families are fleeing E Lanka after a threat from a frontal LTTE body, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Sep 23, 2006 22:45 IST
PK Balachandran
PK Balachandran

Over 2,000 Muslims have fled from Mutur in the Trincomalee district of Eastern Sri Lanka, after a leaflet, believed to have been issued by a front organization of the LTTE, announced that the Tamil militant group is going to launch a fresh military offensive.

The last military offensive and the counter offensive by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces had taken place in the first week of August, resulting in over 50,000 people, mostly Muslims, fleeing Mutur town and its surroundings.

Reports reaching Colombo on Saturday said that the Muslims were fleeing to the Sinhala majority area of Kantalai and Kinniya. But they were stopped by the Sri Lankan Army and asked to get back.

The last time the Muslims came to Kantalai and Kinniya, the local Sinhalas feared that they might settled down their permanently. The government had to pressurise the refugees to get back to Mutur.

LTTE denies issuing leaflet

Denying any responsibility for the leaflet, the LTTE's political leader for Trincomalee district, Elilan, said that the Tamil Tigers had nothing to do with the organisation in whose name the leaflets appeared.

Elilan told the pro-LTTE Tamil website that the leaflets were distributed by the Sri Lankan government to drive a wedge between the Muslims and Tamils of Mutur.

"But despite the denial, people are leaving. Fear has gripped them, given past experience," an informed source in Trincomalee town told Hindustan Times over phone.

"A few weeks before the LTTE occupation of Mutur in August, a similar leaflet was distributed and therefore a second leaflet had created legitimate fears among the Muslims in the area that this too would indicate another LTTE attack," said Rauff Hakeem, Leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC).

While noting the LTTE's denial of any involvement, Hakeem said, "As the leader of the country's main Muslim party I kindly request the LTTE leadership to issue a public statement denying any LTTE involvement in the leaflets and prevent another humanitarian crisis if the LTTE did not have any hand in them."

The short but brutal war, which began with the LTTE's occupation of Mutur on August 2, claimed many lives and led to the displacement of 50,000 people, mostly Muslims.

But even as these people were resettling themselves in Mutur after the end of the hostilities, a leaflet issued by the "Tamil Eelam Redemption Force" on Friday, announced that the LTTE was to launch a strong attack on the government forces in Mutur and advised the Muslims to leave the area to avoid being used by the government forces as a "human shield".

First Published: Sep 23, 2006 21:11 IST