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Chronology Of Ltte Terror - Part 52

From the Daily News Archives:

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When the euphoria of victory dies down, and together with it the media hype ceases, when the guns do not rattle and boom anymore and the sky, the land and the sea become calm and serene, when tranquillity reigns through it is natural to live in the present moment and forget the past. But one cannot live in the present without a past.

Nor can one envision the future discarding the experience of the preceding events. Hence the Daily News is serialising the Chronicle of LTTE Terror taken from our own archives which would remind our readers how it all began.

An awareness of the chronology of terror would help us prevent the recurrence of such terror and frustrate any attempts by misguided elements to repeat history to suit their evil designs. It was not simple terror. Nor was terror sporadic. It was all pre-planned, pre-determined, well-calculated terror. The victims were innocent people. Though it is too many innumerate we would like to recall the major episodes in the Chronology of Terror.

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Monday March 04, 1991

Death dealer devised by LTTE?:

Bomb planted in mystery vehicle : Police

Police yesterday believed strongly that the bomb which exploded on Saturday morning on Havelock Road, instantly killing Minister of Plantation Industries and State Minister for Defence Ranjan Wijeratne and 18 others, was planted in a van parked along the route taken by the ill-fated ministerial motorcade.

They also believed that the assassination was master-minded by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam who had the expertise and capability, as well as a vengeful motive, for eliminating the man who just two weeks ago went on record to say that he would wipe them out in six months’ time.


The Guard of Honour by soldiers at the funeral of Gen. Ranjan Wijeratne at Independence Square

The Minister’s limousine, together with its occupants, was lifted onto a flat-bed truck and taken to the JMO’s office soon after the explosion. A spokesman for the JMO’s office said that parts had to be cut open in order to retrieve the bodies of those inside.

Identification of the bodies, charred beyond recognition, had only been determined by the seating positions used by the Minister, Sub-Inspector Wijekoon of the Ministerial Security Division, and driver, Army Corporal Premadasa, this source said.

Besides wrecking the Minister’s Mercedes Benz limousine and its escort Land Rovers of the Special Task Force, Saturday’s bomb blast damaged a bus, at least eight cars, and over ten motorcycles. Several houses and shops in the immediate vicinity were also badly damaged.

The explosion was heard as far as Pannipitiya, and Lankapuvath reported that its police sources believed the bomb weighed at least 60 kilograms having a greater destructive power than the Pettah bomb of 35 kg and the Maradana bomb of 40 kg weight.

Preliminary investigations point to it having been devised by the LTTE which had the ‘know-how’ for a remote-control detonation of Saturday’s nature, it said.

Pieces of tyre collected from the site of the explosion point to the bomb having been placed in a van of yet-unknown make. This line of investigation is being pursued with pieces of the van’s engine also recovered being studied by police.

While the IGP’s office last morning said that the total killed at the time of the explosion numbered 19 (including the Minister), and gave 59 as being the number injured, General Hospital sources yesterday said that a total of 73 persons had been injured.

Thirteen of the dead were reported to have been identified up to noon yesterday, and police were seeking public assistance to identify the others. A Government communique later in the day said that “twenty four innocent civilians” had died as a result of the Havelock Road bomb explosion, and that the government had decided to meet the cost of funeral expenses of each deceased person upto a sum of Rs. 5,000.

Those requiring financial assistance were asked to get in touch with the Director of Social Services at 98, D. S. Senanayake Mawatha, Borella.

Police were yesterday interviewing a number of persons whom they believe could help them in their investigations into Saturday’s bombing. Reuter reported that among those detained was a Tamil woman who was “behaving in a suspicious manner” near the site of the bomb blast.

A colonel in the Sri Lanka Army’s volunteer force, the slain Minister who for the past two years played a vital role in combatting terrorism - first the JVP and then the LTTE, the latter whom he vowed go destroy in the next six months - was on Saturday posthumously promoted to the rank of General by President Ranasinghe Premadasa, who also declared that Wednesday, March 6, will be a day of mourning.

The funeral of General Ranjan Wijeratne will be accorded full State and military honours at Independence Square on Wednesday.


Defence Minister Ranjan Wijeratne killed

Only three weeks after the new year dawned in 1991 when the LTTE terrorists who had remained unaggressive for a few months struck again at a remote civilian settlement of farmers killing 27 people including 15 children and 7 women. The remote hamlet Bogamuyaya near Maha Oya in the Ampara District had come under the attacks of terrorists even before and the hamlet became deserted due to fear.

However the government had promised the people that the eastern province would be cleared of terrorists and some weeks before the LTTE slaughtered villagers. A group of around 25 -30 terrorists armed with knives and swords as well as automatic rifles had entered the village that night and hacked to death the 27 villagers including women and children. Only one villager who escaped the attack crept into a nearby jungle and lived.

On the same day the bungalow of the District Judge, the police station and Police superintendent’s office Batticaloa was attacked by the terrorists but the police and the army chased out the attackers who fled carrying their injured.

Since the separatist terrorists first ambush of a group of soldiers in the North on July 24,1983 on the outskirts of Jaffna the killings of soldiers and civilians continued for several years but the most important victim of the LTTE terrorists State Minister of Defence and Plantation Minister Ranajan Wijeratne took place on March 02, 1991.

At that time the intelligence services knew that Ranjan Wijeratne who was one of the most fearless politicians was known to the LTTE terrorists as the ‘White Bear’ a man they feared. On that Saturday when the minister’s motorcade with two commando vehicles driving on either side and two commando vehicles in front and behind the minister’s limousines, a guard given only second to the President’s security an explosion rocked the Havelock Road killing near police park Ranjan instantly.

The Havelock Town massacre set off with a bomb placed in a vehicle killed the minister on the spot with eighteen others among whom were the elite commandos escorting him. A total of 73 people on Havelock road were also injured. Ranjan Wijeratne had said he would see that the LTTE terrorists would be wiped out within the next six months but the LTTE who feared the White Bear got rid of him before that.

During March the LTTE who laid siege to two army camps Kokkapadayan and Silavathurai were also to lose 115 fighters in a failed siege and among the dead cadres a majority were women.

During the end of March the LTTE again attacked a remote village Bulathwewa in the Ampara District and hacked five farmers to death. One farmer escaped with injuries and manged to hide himself in the jungle till the terrorists left the locality.

During the Sinhala Hindu New year days the LTTE again chose a remote village Ethimale on the border of the Ampara District and hacked to death 17 villagers who were asleep after attending to new year festivities. Among those killed were three women and seven children.


Thursday 24, 1991

Tigers massacre 27 villagers

Twenty seven civilians were brutally shot and hacked to death by LTTE terrorists at Bogamuyaya in the Mahaoya police area of the Ampara district early last morning.


The wreckage of the vehicle of Defence Minister Gen. Ranjan Wijeratne at the scene of the blast at Havelock Road near Police Park

The dead included 15 children, seven women and five men. Nine others injured in the attack were admitted to the Mahaoya hospital.

Bogamuyaya is an isolated village on the Mahaoya -Polonnaruwa Road, and defence circles believe that some of the terrorists who had escaped the army’s onslaught on the Thoppigala Tiger camp could be behind this attack.

These villagers have only recently resettled in their village, having left it some time ago following the previous attacks on isolated villages.

Meanwhile, a Reuter report on the incident said that about 300 LTTE Tigers had been involved in the attack, and added that political sources said the Tigers want to frighten the Sinhala villagers into leaving the district.

The report also said that the terrorists had attacked army and police checkpoints nearby and set fire to houses belonging to paddy farmers in the area.

In a separate incident, six soldiers were seriously injured when their jeep was caught in a landmine explosion on the Trincomalee-Kantalai road on Tuesday. They were all admitted to the Anuradhapura hospital.

In yet another incident on Tuesday, terrorists attacked the official residence of the Batticaloa district judge, the police station and the SP’s office. Police reported that all these attacks had been repulsed, and that the Tigers had fled taking their injured cadres with them.


Operator who triggered the explosion was 100 metres away, and had motorcade in sight...:

What make was killer vehicle?

Investigators probing the assassination of Minister Ranjan Wijeratne are trying to find out the make of vehicle that brought the explosive to the site.

The special team of crack police investigators, drawn from the CID and the CDB and operating under the personal direction of Inspector General of Police, Ernest Perera, have interviewed 250 persons, including many of the injured, in an effort to determine at what time a vehicle has been halted at that spot, whether it was the Hiace van missing from Fort police area five days ago or whether they saw any person or persons near a halted vehicle before the explosion.

It is believed that someone operating a remote controlled device would have to do so from about 100 metres away, and be able to see the ministerial motorcade at the same time, a senior police officer said.

Police are also in contact with Government Analyst, A. R. L. Wijesekera and his officials, who are working round the clock with bits and pieces collected from the scene at Havelock Road last Saturday morning, to provide information as quickly as possible on the make of the vehicle.

A senior police officer said residents in the vicinity of the blast are being closely questioned for information on the type of vehicles they saw parked on that stretch of road between 8.00 and 8.30 a.m. on Saturday. Once the make of the vehicle is established, police will check with the list of stolen vehicles reported in the recent past.

Investigators say the assassination had been meticulously planned for at least a month before; the Minister used the same route every day to go to his Horton Place residence from Havelock Road.

Meanwhile, the death toll in the bomb attack which killed Minister Wijeratne has risen to 32, police said yesterday. They pointed out that 48 hours after the attack no one had yet claimed responsibility.

Lankapuwath reported yesterday that police said the assassination smacked of being an LTTE job, but they were conducting investigations with an ‘open mind.’

“They said wreckage from a vehicle other than the Minister’s white mercedes Benz and security backup land rovers was found at the site of the explosion.

“Police said some seriously injured STF commandos in the back-up vehicles were not yet able to make any statement; neither were the injured security guards from the privately-run University Women students hostel” Lankapuwath reported.

Mr. Wijeratne, a colonel in the Army’s Volunteer Rifle Corps, was posthumously promoted to the rank of General.


Monday March 25, 1991

Nine killed as (Tiger?) bomb goes off in Akkaraipattu bazaar

A bomb exploded in the crowded Akkaraipattu fish market, around 9 a.m. on Sunday, killing nine people and injuring 50.

Police said among the injured were women and children of the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities.

Twenty-seven of the injured were admitted to the Ampara hospital and the rest to the Maradamune and Kalmunai hospitals.

Residents said the entire Akkaraipattu area was rocked by the explosion.

The fire which followed the explosion was raging upto noon yesterday and shops in Akkaraipattu closed down and people deserted the streets after the blast, police reported.

LTTE terrorists are suspected of having set off the bomb.

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Tomorrow - Tigers massacre sleeping villagers in New Year spree

Yesterday - STF ambushed at Panama

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