B. Muralidhar Reddy

Report unfounded and baseless, says Government spokesman

COLOMBO: In a ruling which is an embarrassment for the Mahinda Rajapakse Government, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) has said there are "very strong indications" of the involvement of the security forces in the execution of 17 national aid workers of a French non-government organisation in Muttur in the first week of August. Chief of the SLMM Ulf Henricsson on Wednesday gave ruling on three major issues that have dominated the discourse here since the escalation of hostilities in April. The other two subjects were the killing of 68 bus passengers in a claymore attack in June and the reported claymore attacks by the armed forces from April onwards in the LTTE controlled areas. In a matter of fact reaction, defence spokesman and Minister Keheliya Rambukwella described the SLMM ruling as unfounded and baseless.

On Tuesday, excerpts from the report on the June bus attack were posted on the Government Secretariat website.

LTTE blamed for bus attack

On the June 15 Kebitigollewa bus attack the SLMM has said, "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.

The SLMM report is bound to widen the gulf between the Government and the monitoring mission.

On the execution of the 17 aid workers in Muttur, which triggered world wide outrage, the mission ruling said, "Noting the facts outlined in the SLMM findings there are very strong indications of the involvement of the Security Forces in the act despite their denial. Firstly, the SLMM cannot find the reasons for the restrictions of movements into the said areas especially in above mentioned circumstances acceptable, thereby strongly indicating the GOSL's eagerness to conceal the matter from the SLMM."

Muslim dominated Muttur became the theatre of war after the LTTE succeeded in overrunning the army camps and took over the town in the last week of July.

The ruling claimed that the SLMM head had also had confidential conversations with highly reliable sources on the incident.