Sri Lankan cabinet minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle was among 12 people killed outside Colombo April 6 in a blast blamed on a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber. At least 90 people were wounded in the explosion minutes before the start of a traditional marathon race held as part of a Hindu new year celebration at Waliweriy. Indo-Asian News Service called the event “Hindu-Sinhala,” as it was attended by minority Hindu members of the mostly Buddhist ethnic Sinhalese majority on the island. Marathon gold medallist K.A. Karunaratne was also among the dead. (IANS, April 6)
Meanwhile, ongoing acts of carnage which fail to make global headlines are recorded on the website of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam-Peace Secretariat (LTTE-PS). The LTTE-PS reports that frequent shelling by the armed forces from its base at Manalaru is forcing children to stay home from school in the Mullaithivu and Vadamaradchi areas within LTTE territory. (LTTE-PS, April 3)
The site also says that “indiscriminate attacks” by the Sri Lankan military near the Madhu Church, an important Catholic shrine in LTTE-controlled territory have converted the area “into a war zone,” in violation of “international customary laws and UN Conventions to safeguard holy religious places from military attacks.” The website says that on Feb. 29, 18 civilians, including many school children, were killed when a Claymore mine planted by the armed forces destroyed a bus traveling inside the church complex. (LTTE-PS, April 3)
The Madhu Church, revered by Tamil and Sinhalese Catholics alike, has been contested in the war for over a decade, with the Sri Lankan government accusing the LTTE of using it as a base. (Sinhale Hot News, April 3) The LTTE charges the church was the site of a massacre in November 1999, when it came under artillery fire by the Sri Lankan armed forces after local civilians had taken refuge there, leaving 31 dead. (LTTE-PS, Nov. 22, 2006)
See our last post on Sri Lanka.