V.S. Sambandan

Army, LTTE trade charges

COLOMBO: Tension prevailed in Trincomalee after five Tamil youths were killed and two others were injured on Monday.

The Army maintained that they were "LTTE cadres" and died in an "accidental grenade explosion." The LTTE denied it and charged the security forces with killing them.

Trincomalee MP, R. Sampanthan, said while one of the victims was a University student, the others had finished their schooling and were awaiting admission to university or employment.

President Mahinda Rajapakse on Tuesday ordered Inspector General of Police Chandra Fernando to conduct a special investigation into the killings, a presidential aide told The Hindu . "The investigation has been ordered amidst contradictory claims by the Army and the LTTE," he said.

Eastern sources said the post-mortem established that the deaths were due to gunshot injuries. "They were shot in the head, we can confirm that," Helen Olafsdottir, spokesperson for the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), told The Hindu . "It still remains unclear as to what the motives are," she said.

Mr. Sampanthan, who is also the parliamentary leader of the LTTE-backed Tamil National Alliance (TNA), in a statement said while three youths sustained gunshot injuries in the head, the other two were shot in the abdomen and chest.

Cadre killed: LTTE

The LTTE said one of its cadres and a civilian were "killed in a claymore explosion" in a rebel-controlled area in the northern Mannar district on Tuesday. An LTTE statement blamed Sri Lankan security forces "who had moved into LTTE-controlled areas" for the attack.