Record arms haul in Sri Lanka

B. Muralidhar Reddy

One killed, six wounded in mine blast

COLOMBO: One civilian was killed and six other persons were wounded when suspected Tamil Tigers set off a fragmentation mine in north Sri Lanka even as the military claimed that the haul of weapons in the eastern operation is the largest in the 25-year history of the conflict.

The blast was aimed at an army bus carrying troops in the town of Jaffna.

It injured five army personnel, killed one civilian and wounded another, the Ministry said on Saturday.

In the eastern district of Batticaloa, a commander was injured when suspected Tigers fired at a police camp.

In a search operation in Trincomalee the military said it had recovered 48 T-56 assault rifles, two T-81 rifles and 210 magazines. It said these items were buried in an abandoned house by the LTTE.

Military operation

In a statement, the military said since the operation was successfully completed in Vaharai on January 19, the army is now engaged in a massive clearing operation including a de-mining programme for the resettlement of the people displaced by the LTTE activities.

In a search operation conducted on Saturday 28, T 56 assault rifles, and an RPG have been recovered from the area. Large quantities of arms including heavy weapons, explosive devices, mines, small arms, mortars and equipment have been recovered in the process of the clearing and de-mining operations.

Continuing search

"A total of two 152 mm artillery guns, five 120mm mortars, eight 81mm mortars, 624 T 56 assault rifles, two anti-craft guns, RPG launchers and rockets, two suicide boats fitted with 22 and 24 Claymore mines each, seventy one claymore mines [some weighing 10-15 kg], 13 machine guns, 34 high tech communication sets, 62 I-Com radio sets, large quantities of ammunition of all types, and anti-personnel mines have been recovered up to yesterday [16th February]".

The military said it is the largest haul of heavy weapons and small arms, explosives, claymore mines and high tech equipment left behind by the fleeing LTTE in the entire history of the 25-year-long armed conflict.

"The army is continuing search and clearing operations.

"This is to achieve the target of resettling the displaced civilians of Vaharai, Batticaloa, as early as possible in spite of the grave risks due to the anti-personnel mines, booby traps, claymore mines and an assortment of explosives laid by the LTTE terrorists against the security forces", it said.