April 22, 2011 By

80 Bodies Found In Mass Grave in Former LTTE Stronghold

c2Eighty skeletal remains have been discovered from a mass grave in a former LTTE stronghold in Sri Lanka. The remnants of the bodies are believed to be those of Tamil civilians who disappeared during the war with the rebels.

“We have collected some 80 skeletal remains and removed them for safe keeping,” said Dhananjaya Waidyaratne, a judicial medical officer. First four of the skeletal remains were discovered on December 21, last year, by the construction workers in Thirukatheeswaram area of Mannar district, Waidyaratne said. Excavations resumed on Monday.

After a magisterial inquiry, forensic medicine officials were deployed in the area. Officials had earlier said that women and children were suspected to be among those buried in the grave. Further tests would be carried out to study the circumstances in which they died.

Mannar, which has a sizable Tamil population, witnessed many battles between government troops and the LTTE during the civil war. This was the first discovery of a mass grave in the northeast since the army crushed Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009 after decades-long war for a separate homeland for minority Tamils.

The Sri Lankan government justified its soldiers saying that they could not have been involved in the slaying of those found in the grave, since the Mannar area was a Tamil rebel stronghold.

The mass grave figured in the government’s response to UN Human Rights chief Navy Pillay’s report on Sri Lanka which is expected to be submitted at the UN Human Rights Council’s session next month. The report is being seen as a preamble to the next US-backed resolution against Sri Lanka on alleged rights abuses. Another mass grave found in the central district of Matale is also being investigated.

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