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Chronology Of Ltte Terror - Part 58

From the Daily News Archives

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.

[Saturday October 21, 1995]

Tiger hitmen go for oil facility

Effects not as bad as first feared:

A terrorist strike at the Ceylon Petroleum Corporations’s (CPC) Kolonnawa tank farm and the Orugodawatte crude oil depot in the early hours of Friday morning triggered one of the biggest ever blazes seen in Colombo with subsequent shooting, leaving at lest 21 persons dead.

Kolonnawa tank farm after the attack

Government imposed a curfew in the aftermath of the explosion first till 12 noon on Friday and later extended till 4 a.m. today. The effect of the attack, however, was established to be not as bad as originally feared.

Four of the Kolonnawa facility’s 47 storage tanks were set ablaze in the attack in which police estimated about 20 heavily armed Tiger cadres had participated. Three tanks were set on fire at the crude oil facility, CPC sources said.

Among the dead were Air Force, Army and police personnel who died in the shooting which followed the explosion and the fires. Crime Detective bureau Sources said that investigations suggested that the terrorists had planted explosives in the oil facilities and then detonated them electronically.

A man who police believe led the attackers was shot dead by as police constable near the Baseline Road railway crossing. Police also found two legs of a man with the trunk missing close to the main gate of the Kolonnawa installation. His feet were clad in shoes identical to those worn by the man killed at the level crossing.

Senior SP Lionel Gunatillake, head of the CDB, said that they had arrested four of the attackers. accomplices who were now being held under the Emergency pending completion of investigations. Among them was the driver of a lorry loaded with the tools of terror.

A 60 mm rocket launcher, wire cutters,nylon rope and military uniforms were among the items hidden among cartons of soap, milk powder and food items, the driver claimed to be transporting to Kilinochchi. He said a businessman in Rajagiriya, named as Jegan, had hired him and could not account for the items hidden in his vehicle.

Investigators said that CPC security guards had seen four men dressed in dark shirts and trousers trying to enter the Kolonnawa facility and shouted horu, horu (“thief, thief”). The intruders had opened fire which had been returned and the military informed. Within minutes of this encounter, an explosion was heard inside the taken farm followed by the blaze.

The lorry and other equipment was detected about half an hour after the fire had begun.

The man who was shot dead at Baseline Road was armed with a T-56 rifle and carried Rs. 3,500 cash. He also had a list of 19 code names that have led the authorities to believe that he had that any accomplices.

DIG (Colombo) H, M. G. B. Kotakadeniya said that investigations revealed that the hit team had been sent to Colombo by the LTTE’s Kilinochchi leader Suruban. Their plans had been finalised in the Rajagiriya businessman’s home.

Detectives believe that four of the attackers had travelled to Kolonnawa by lorry and 8 by van. How the rest of the team reached their target had not been established.

Seven SLAF personnel riding a Land Rover were killed in the vicinity of the attack after the blaze had begun. They had arrived there in response to the alarm. Shooting in the vicinity continued long after the fire and two policemen and several soldiers were killed in this fighting.

Daily News staffer Anton Gunasekera who drove towards the installation after seeing the blaze from across the Kelani bridge at 2 a.m. was stopped on a Factory by two uniformed men armed with T-56.

“They emerged from behind a parked passenger bus. One held the nozzle of his weapon against the head of my friend at the wheel of our car while the other pointed his gun at me. “Where are you going this way?”, he demanded in Sinhalese.

“I was quick enough to say that we were returning home after admitting my grandchild who was seriously ill to the children’s hospital.

“The man on the driver’s side somewhat agitatedly asked whether we saw any policemen at the junction. We said we had not noticed any and were allowed to proceed. We watched the men get back to their hiding place behind the bus on our driving mirror.

“We drove to the Borella police and reported the incident to OIC Gamini Wijesuriya who sent off a jeep load of eight armed policemen and alerted army emergency”, Gunasekera said. The two policemen killed in the shootout following yesterday’s Kolonnawa fire were Chief Inspector Dissanayake of the STF and reserve Inspector Dharmasena of the Mirihana police.

The two injured policemen are SPs Thangavelu of the CID and SP Angunawela.

Lake House loses three journalists in attack on aircraft

On April 29, 1995 three journalists of Lake House were aboard an Air Force aircraft on its way to Palaly to report the story of the Avro Jet Aircraft that was exploded by the terrorists two days earlier. Among the three was our colleague Karunaratne Saputantri, a Deputy Editor of the sister newspaper Silumina and a novelist who had authored several Sinhala Novels. Sapu as we fondly addressed him had a perpetual smile on his face and was a person who would not hurt a fly. His manners and mannerisms were humanitarian and he was a soft spoken man whose writing skills were far above the average.

The second was Kirama Piyasoma also of the same newspaper a self made crime reporter who had worked very hard to become one of the best at Lake House and his close colleagues had seen him taking all the notes on the Avro aircraft disaster the evening before the ill-fated flight to Jaffna. The third, Edwin Weerasinghe was a photo journalist with much experience and was always there when the newspaper demanded a good photographic coverage whether it was to be a series of pictures or simply one photograph.

When the SLAF carrying over 50 members of the armed forces and our three journalists was crossing the northern coastal area LTTE terrorists opened anti-aircraft fire bringing it down. All aboard the aircraft died in the crash.

The LTTE now on the run in the north however crept into strategic hideouts in jungle pockets and were firing mortars at the armed forces positions and on September 9, 1995 a LTTE hand grenade was lobbed into a classroom at Vipulananda Maha Vidyalaya, Eravur in the Eastern Province and injured six students seriously.

During the small hours of October 20, a group of LTTE cadres who had infiltrated Colombo city attacked the Orugodawatte crude oil tank farm firing motars and setting four of the forty seven oil tanks ablaze with 21 people.

When police opened fire on the attackers one of them died but the others who had come for the attack escaped.

The damage done to the oil storage tanks was a serious threat to the national economy as the Orugaodawatte oil tank farm was one of the most important facilities that supplied crude oil to the oil refinery at Sapugaskanda.

Though the terrorists had come with the intention of attacking with mortar fire the entire 47 oil tanks at Orugodawatte the counter attack on the terrorist group by the army and police saved the larger number of tanks and did not interrupt the fuel storage and distribution.

The fuel supplies remained normal but a more devastating result could have been witnessed if the security forces and the police did not arrive and defended the oil tanks farm.

[Monday November 13, 1995]

Two suspects arrested in abortive attack on army headquarters

A. S. Fernando and Edward Arambawela

Police sleuths investigating Saturday’s abortive attack on the army headquarters have already arrested two suspects, official sources said yesterday.

The search for more possible accomplices continued as the two suspects were being interrogated.

Fifteen people including a Police sergeant and a soldier were killed when two Tiger suicide bombers blew themselves when their attempt to enter the army headquarters was foiled.

The first suicide bomber had tried to enter the army headquarters premises about 10 am on Saturday. The military policeman at the entrance checkpoint had drawn his pistol on the defiant intruder when the latter blasted himself injuring several soldiers.

The second suicide bomber who was fleeing the blast scene had blown herself opposite the Slave Island railway station where a large crowd had gathered by then. At least 14 people were killed and about 50 others injured in this blast.

The blasts were believed to have been triggered by explosives strapped to the bodies of the two suicide bombers.

A senior Police official said that the attackers were not targeting anyone in particular. “They just wanted to show the world their capability to strike,” he said.

The death toll from the blasts would have been minimal if the people did not rush where they were not wanted, he pointed out.

Of the 62 bomb blast victims admitted to the Accident Service in Colombo General Hospital on Saturday, 32 had been discharged by yesterday morning, hospital director Dr. Terrence de Silva said.

“The medical staff had been working late into the night on Friday, attending on army casualties from the North. Tired as they were, the entire staff, however, readily rose to the occasion when the bomb blast victims were brought,” he said.

The director placed the special medical team of the Disaster Preparedness Plan (DPP) on alert when he heard the first blast soon after 10 am. The team had to attend on only two victims from the first blast. They thought they could call it a day when they heard the second blast about 10.30 am which brought over 60 victims, Dr. de Silva recalled.

Nine victims of the second blast were found dead on admission. Another victim succumbed to his injuries on Saturday night.

Hospital Director Dr. de Silva said that he had been compelled to restrict visitors to patients for security reasons and appealed to friends and relatives for their co-operation.

Eleven bodies of the 17 killed in the blasts have already been identified by relatives.

The dead victimes identified by relatives are: PS Arunashantha of Slave Island Police, Surasena of Army Headquarters, Sanjiva Soysa of Slave Island, Bandula Rajapakse, a hotel employee, Mohamed Nawshaad, Ilmi Jayatunga Mohamed Rizvi, Veleyuthan Prabakaran, Mohamed Seyed, Serin Mohamed and Paki Mohamed Rushan Ali.

Investigations are being conduced under the direction of senior DIG H. M. G. B. Kotakadeniya and CDB director, SSP Lionel Gunatillake.

[Friday October 27, 1995]

Tigers kill 23 civilians

LTTE terrorists killed 23 civilians in Heratthalmillewa, 12 km from Kebithigollawa in the North Central Province early yesterday morning, military spokesman Sarath Munasinghe said.

This attack is the fifth of its kind since Saturday.

Military officials in Colombo said the Tigers were “thoroughly desperate” after suffering heavy losses in the current military offensive and resorted to diabolical killings to distract the attention of security forces and provoke a communal backlash.

In other incidents, two soldiers were killed in a landmine explosion in Mailambaweli, Batticaloa on Wednesday.

Three civilians have been killed on Wednesday when policemen at a guard post in Mannar opened fire on a bus mistaking it for a bus carrying LTTE cadres, shortly after a landmine explosion in the vicinity injured three policemen.

Another 17 civilians were injured and airlifted to Anuradhapura hospital.

A police team led by senior DIG A. S. Seneviratne have left for Mannar to investigate the shooting’.

The funerals of the three civilians will be done at state expense.

Tuesday October 24, 1995:

Tigers kill 19 villagers

LTTE terrorists killed 19 villagers including six children and five women in Attimalai in the Moneragala District early morning yesterday, defence sources in Colombo said.

Several other persons were wounded in the attack by the terrorists who also torched a number of shops and homes.

The latest massacre follows similar raids by the LTTE on Sinhalese villages in the North Central Province and Eastern Province on Saturday.

Tuesday March 17, 1994:

Tigers kill five fishermen, sink their boats

COLOMBO, Wednesday (Lankapuvath) - LTTE terrorist in boats brutally gunned down five fisheries and sank their boats, on Tuesday night, near Kudurumalai Points, off the Puttalam - Mannar border.

A military spokesman, Brigadier Gemunu Kulatunga, said the attack had taken place off the fishing village of Baththalangunda.

He said five other fishermen were wounded. Three fishing boats were sunk by the terrorists.

Tomorrow - Bombs rip Central Bank

Yesterday - Dimbulagala Prelate who served the poor killed by terrorists


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