Sri Lankan Muslims outraged by massacre in restive east
Mon September 18, 2006 08:51 EDT .
ERANGA JAYAWARDENA - Associated Press Writer - POTTUVIL, Sri Lanka - (AP) The Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels blamed each other for a massacre of 10 young Muslim laborers whose hacked and mutilated bodies were recovered from a remote eastern jungle Monday. Muslims are Sri Lanka - 's second-largest minority after ethnic Tamils, who are mostly Hindu, and generally oppose the Tamil Tigers, who have accused Muslims of supporting the government. The rebels also oppose Muslims cultivating land in areas they consider Tamil territory.
Separately, the military said a Sri Lankan soldier was killed and another wounded in an overnight attack by suspected rebels in the country's troubled north, where mortar attacks have been ongoing. A civilian was also shot to death Monday in Jaffna town, witnesses said.
Government troops exchanged small arms fire with rebels in the Jaffna Peninsula, said an officer at the Defense Ministry's Media Center for National Security who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
It was not immediately clear whether the rebels suffered any casualties.
Elsewhere, the military also blamed rebels for the killing Sunday of four ethnic Tamils, including an infant child, in the eastern Trincomalee district. Eyewitness said Tamil Tigers accused the victims of being informants for government forces, the military said.
The latest violence came a day after Sri Lankan battleships and warplanes intercepted an alleged Tamil Tiger rebel weapons shipment off the island's restive eastern coast, sinking the ship and killing up to 15 insurgents, military officials said.
The vessel's crew had refused to identify themselves, but hoisted a rebel flag during an eight-hour sea battle before being bombed and sunk around 120 nautical miles (220 kilometers) off the eastern coast of Batticaloa district, military officials said.
The rebels have been fighting since 1983 for a separate homeland for the country's ethnic Tamil minority in the northeast, citing decades of discrimination by the mostly Buddhist Sinhalese majority.
The conflict cost the lives of about 65,000 people before the 2002 cease-fire, which began unraveling in December and has since claimed hundreds more lives and driven over 220,000 from their homes. More than 400 government troops alone have been killed since July, according to the military.
AP reporter Eliane Engeler in Geneva contributed to this article.
On the Net:
Pro-rebel Web site: www.tamilnet.com
Defense Ministry site: www.nationalsecurity.lk
Published: Mon Sep 18 14:03:05 EDT 2006