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SLMM blames military for aid worker killings; LTTE for Kebetigollewe massacre But monitors are not forensic experts – Govt

The Norwegian-led Nordic truce monitoring mission has blamed security forces for the recent massacre of 17 civilian aid workers at Muttur. "`85there are very strong indications of the involvement of the Security Forces despite their denial," the mission said, accusing the government of restricting their movements into Muttur. The mission accused the government of trying to conceal the matter from them.

The government denied the accusation. Senior military officials said that the government had brought in Australian experts to investigate the massacre. They accused the monitoring mission of issuing unsubstantiated statement. The government is likely to take this up with the mission.

Defence spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwelle vehemently denied the involvement of the armed forces in the massacre of the Action Against Hunger workers. He said monitors were no forensic experts to draw conclusions on the matter.

Fifteen aid workers were found shot dead at close range in execution style in early August, when the armed forces moved into Muttur following a fiercely fought battle with the LTTE. The Government blamed the massacre on the LTTE.

The mission declared the massacre was a gross violation of the CFA by the government, a charge vehemently opposed by the military.

"Taking into consideration the fact that the Security Forces had been present in Muttur at the time of the incident it appears highly unlikely to blame other groups for the killing. Provided that was the case it would in particular be illogical for the Security Forces to prevent the SLMM from entering the area and making proper inquiries in order to find the perpetrator(s)," the SLMM said.

The Head of SLMM has also had confidential conversations with highly reliable sources regarding the party who most likely has been responsible for the act. The views have not proved contradictory and the Security Forces of Sri Lanka are widely and consistently deemed to be responsible for the incident.

Concluding with the supporting information arisen from the persons interviewed and the conversations with the representatives of the International Community the SLMM is, with the obtained findings, convinced that there cannot be any other armed groups than the Security Forces who could actually have been behind the act.

The Nordic truce monitoring mission also accused the military of conducting clandestine operations in LTTE-held areas. The mission said that government personnel mounted a series of claymore mine attacks between April 1 and June this year.

"SLMM findings and internal analysis of both individual claymore mine attacks, as well as of the pattern arising from the same show that deliberate, planned and coordinated offensive military operations were conducted between 01 April and 15 June 2006 in LTTE controlled areas to execute these claymore mine attacks. SLMM findings have also verified two attempted claymore mine attacks carried out by the GoSL Security Force’s Special units in LTTE controlled area on 13 and 15 June 2006. Two SLA soldiers from the Special units were killed by the LTTE in an exchange of fire and subsequently transported to GoSL area under the convey of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)"

Blaming the LTTE for the Kebitigollewa bus massacre, the Nordic truce monitoring said that the attack was a deliberate retaliatiory attack against the killing of LTTE cadres and Tamil civilians by government security forces.

"SLMM findings have shown that the attack on the civilian bus was carried out by using military expertise with regards to planning, coordination and execution. The attack required very good knowledge of the area and intelligence skills along with the capability and skills of deploying and handling such weapons professionally."

"The LTTE has condemned the Kebitigollewa attack and denied their involvement in the incident expressing that another armed element, the Karuna group, has had a motive to execute the attack in order to discredit the LTTE. The SLMM does not find that plausible based on various grounds."

"Based on SLMM inquiries and the well known modus operandi for the LTTE, the SLMM considers highly probable that there can be no other armed element than the LTTE and LTTE affiliated forces that have had the motive to carry out the attack, in particular in GOSL controlled areas. Taking specifically into account the prevailing circumstances and obtained findings there are strong indications that the attack on Sinhalese civilians had been a deliberate retaliation for the recent killings of civilians and LTTE cadres in LTTE controlled areas in the North and the East."

"Therefore, being the only element with the motive, capability and capacity to carry out the attack, the LTTE must bear the responsibility for the killing of civilians. Consequently, the attack on the civilian bus in Kebitigollewa on the 15th of June 2006 is ruled as a gross violation of the CFA by the LTTE." -Island

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August 31, 2006 - Posted by | Media, Media Journalism, News, News and politics, Press Release, South Asia, World News

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