Lankan air force planes resuming aerial bombardment of the Muthur
region in Trincomalee district on April 26th have in a colossal
blunder dropped bombs on Muslim populated areas coming under
Government control. At least three people were killed and eight
injured in the incident where all victims were Muslims.
Consequent to the suicide bomber attack on Army Commander Lt. Gen
Sarath Fonseka the Defence ministry suspended transport to and from
tiger controlled areas in the Wanni and also commenced a three -
pronged undeclared war in Trincomalee district.
The air force along with the Navy and Army had conducted a three -
pronged , coordinated attack on areas coming under Liberation Tigers
of Tamil Eelam control in the Muthur region on April 25th. Two
Israeli built K- fir jets and one Ukraine made Mig 27 bomber
conducted six sorties from 5. 50 Pm to 6. 25 pm.
Naval shelling from five Isreali made Dvora gunboats targetting
coastal areas went on from 6. 35 to 8. 10 pm on the 25th. Artillery
shelling from the Army base at Kuranguppaalam (Monkey Bridge) began
at 6. 45 pm and went on intensively till 9.00 pm. Thereafter multi -
barrel artillery bombardment continued intermittently till midnight.
Expectations among the civians that the bombing was now over got
rudely shattered in the early hours of 26th when K- fir jets from
China Bay air force base resumed aerial bombardment again. Both the
Sampur jetty in LTTE controlled area and Muthur jetty in GOSL
controlled area suffered hits. At least two uniformed personnel from
the Navy were injured.
Bombs also fell on areas extending up to three kilometres from the
Muthur Jetty. These are clearly demarcated Government controlled
areas and are largely populated by Tamil speaking Muslims.After
protests were lodged by Muslims in Muthur to the security
authorities the bombing ceased.
One area affected badly was the Muslim settlement called Dharga
Nagar. A Muslim Moulavi or Mullah Junaideen Mohammed was killed on
the spot. His injured wife Akram Mulfikha (25) and sister Munira
Junaideen (18) died after being admitted to Trincomalee hospital.
Another seven injured persons from Muthur are receiving treatment
While the Navy transported the injured Muslim people from GOSL
controled Muthur to Trinco in their gun boats assistance to injured
Tamil civilians from LTTE controlled areas in the Muthur division
was denied. Though the Red Cross was reportedly engaged in
negotiations to get Navy assistance in transporting three seriously
injured Tamil civilians to Trinco the defence ministry authorities
in Colombo have adamantly refused to help.
According to informed sources at least twelve civilians have been
killed and thirty - seven injured in the artillery and aerial
bombardment of Muthur areas on April 25th. Around sixty - five
people have minor injuries. With Muslim casualties the overall
civilian toll has gone up to fifteen civilians killed and forty -
One of the biggest problems is the lack of adequate medical
facilities to treat the injured. The Sampur clinic is ill - equipped
to handle a tragedy of this proportion.
Three Tamil civilians requiring urgent surgery are still in Sampoor
as the security authorities are refusing to transport the Tamil
victims to Trincomalee hospital. Sampoor clinic does not have
adequate surgical facilities.
Also some of the victims had died because of bleeding caused by the
wounds. If proper medical help was available their lives may have
been saved. Five bodies have been identified as belonging to K.
Meiyan and his two year old son Meiyan Kishanthan, Ms Nagiah Rukmani,
Ms Pathiniyan Nagamma and Ms Veerapathiran Pagawathipillai. All were
from Sampoor, Muttur east, according to civil sources.
Many areas in the region are virtually a sea of rubble after the
intensive attack. Apart from bombs dropped in six different air
force sorties, there were at least 80 shells by the Navy and over 160 shells by
the Army. Rescue work is currently underway and many of the affected
houses, dwellings and other buildings are yet to be cleared. The
casualty toll may go up when all the debris and rubble are cleared. The areas affected are Sampur. Muthur, Senaiyoor,
Kadatkaraichenai, Kattaiparichhaan, Iraalkuli, Soodaikkudaa,
Ilakkanthai, Santhoshapuram, Paattaalipuram, Koonitheevu and Uppaaru.
These villages are in Muthur East and largely adjacent to the coast.
People have fled their homes and sought refuge in the Muthur
division interior areas after the attack. Massive displacement has
occurred. 43, 158 people from 10, 718 families are currently
displaced in Trincomalee district. The bulk of these are from the
Muthur region.. A human tragedy may occur if their needs are not met
In a separate development armed Sinhala villagers attacked Tamil
residents in Thanga nagar on April 26th.Three Tamil civilians
Sivalingam, Jeevarasah and Pathmanathan were hacked to death. Two
other Civilians Alagusingam and Yogarajah were taken away by the mob
and are presumed to be killed.
Tamils from the village and other Tamil villages in the
neighbourhood have fled to LTTE controlled areas in Verugal -
Eechilampattru area in Trincomalee district. Nearly 1500 families
are reportedly displaced.
People in Trincomalee have heard the reports of shelling and bombing
and are extremely worried. A curfew was also imposed in the three
Trinco divisions including the town and gravets.
Meanwhile the Government maintains a tough posture.”I f the LTTE
continues attacking, there will be coordinated retaliation in the
form of defence,” Plan Implementation Minister Keheliya Rambukwella
said. “This will continue as long as the LTTE targets the security
Despite this claim reports from Muthur indicated that actual LTTE
positions in the area have not been affected badly. Only some
buildings of the Tamil rehabilitation Organization have been hit.
The brunt of the undeclared war has been borne by Tamil civilians.
Retired army brigadier Vipul Boteju, told AFP that President
Mahinda Rajapakse had little choice but to order limited air strikes
after Tuesday’s suicide bombing at army headquarters in Colombo.
“The government had to retaliate, they had to do something. They
selected Trincomalee. They are showing we are not willing to simply
accept what the Tigers have done to us,” Boteju told AFP on
“Yesterday was to show the world they can hit any place in the
country,” said Boteju, who warned however that the LTTE would not
simply take the air strikes lying down.
“They will hit something big, maybe overrun an army camp,” he said.
“They may go for a big economic target in Colombo. But then
afterwards both sides will say, okay, let’s now go for talks in
The Tigers however said they would retaliate if the government
continued the attacks; “It is like a war situation in Trincomalee.
If the attacks continue, the LTTE will be forced to take military
defensive action,” S. Puleedevan, head of the Tigers’ peace
secretariat, told Reuters.
” We are in a state of readiness and are awaiting for the
instruction from our leadership to respond with a force that will be
catastrophically disabling and devastating to the enemy,” said
Mr.S.Elilan, Trincomalee district political head of the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam commenting on the current situation in Muttur
east, in a “Tamilnet” report.
Mr.Elilan said that LTTE has not yet retaliated against the air
strike, artillery fire and gunboat attacks by state armed forces.
LTTE is keen not to disturb the peace process.
“However we are waiting for the instruction from our leadership,”
Meanwhile Retired air force chief Harry Gunatillake, also told AFP
that the Tigers were trying to strengthen their hand before agreeing
to further talks in Switzerland.
“They brought the action right to Colombo to get people worried,” he
said, referring to the suicide bombing.
“They want to create fear among the people so they can strengthen
their position if and when they go back to Geneva,” he said, adding
the Tigers had in the past used similar tactics ahead of scheduled
If the government made only limited use of air strikes, he said,
there was still a chance talks could resume in Switzerland perhaps
as soon as May.
But if Tamil civilians were killed in the strikes, he warned, the
situation could escalate into a “big conflagration”.
The head of the government body for co-ordinating the shaky peace
process in Sri Lanka, Palitha Kohona, said the military response had
come after the rebels had fired on army bases in Trincomalee.
“The airforce and naval action is to deter and contain the LTTE from
carrying out further provocative attacks,” said Kohona, the Director
General of the Peace Secretariat.
But Tamil politician Dharmalingam Sidharthan, himself a former rebel
and leader of the PLOTE said the suicide bombing and the
government’s immediate retaliation signaled a return to full-scale
“You have the LTTE carrying out an attack inside the army camp and
the government retaliating with air strikes,” Sidhathan said. “If
this is not war, what (else can you) … call it?”
Nandakalyananda Godage, a former deputy foreign secretary, was also
“They may be talking peace and a negotiated settlement but they
don’t want it,” he said, referring to the LTTE.
“The government has allowed them to attack us with impunity. Any
other country would have hit back very hard,” said Godage.
“The only option is to ask the United Nations to send a peacekeeping
force as they did in Cambodia and Darfur,” he said.
“If the international community doesn’t support us we will have a
Swedish Major-General Ulf Henricsson, who heads the Sri Lanka
Monitoring Mission (SLMM) that oversees the truce, said if air
strikes continued, peace talks would become difficult. The worst
case scenario was a return to war, he said.
“We still have a valid ceasefire agreement. No party has ended it,
but of course it is not a ceasefire right now,” he told Reuters
Whatever the pros and cons of differing viewpoints the actual
position is that the Sri Lankan Government has launched an
undeclared war for the avowed purpose of teaching a lesson to the
LTTE. This is done both as an act of vengeance as well as to show
the South the Government is tough.
The ground reality is that innocent civilians are suffering badly.
The international community which condemned the LTTE for the attack
on Gen Sarath Fonseka must with equal vehemence condemn the
Government action of targetting innocent civilians in a horrendous
three - pronged bombing and shelling campaign.
Even if the tigers provoked the state the wilful targetting of
civilians by the security forces cannot be condoned. It is time for
the International community to give priority to the plight of
innocent civilians above the interests of the chief players namely
the GOSL and LTTE. If the International community does not act fast
not only would it be perceived as partisan in Tamil eyes but will
also precipitate the eruption of a full - scale war.