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DateLine Sunday, 19 August 2007

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Crackdown in Vavuniya

Intelligence agencies tip off local police:

For some time, Police had kept a close tab on a few individuals residing in Colombo who used to make frequent visits to Vauniya on business matters. Naturally the police and intelligence agencies became suspicious of their frequent visits and were eager to know what dealings they had in Vauniya.

After mounting a round the clock surveillance the police intelligence agencies were able to gather a wealth of information on these individuals and their shady dealings with suspicious characters.

Meanwhile the intelligence agencies tipped off the local police on the activities of the men involved in ferrying goods to Vauniya. They also briefed them that the men had close links with suspected LTTE cadres in Vavuniya.

Working together with intelligence agencies the police launched a surveillance campaign to monitor the clandestine activities of these men. There were two men from Vauniya who had settled down in Colombo for business purposes.

However their dealings fell under microscopic investigation when it became apparent of their hideous dealings to supply prohibited goods to the northern terrorist. The goods included liquid chemicals for making explosives and other sophisticated equipment like digital compasses needed in a battle field.

The clandestine dealing came to light when an informant tipped off the intelligence service about the scale of goods that were ferried to the LTTE controlled areas. It was done with the connivance of some corrupt police and security personnel over the years. Some times these men posed off as legitimate businessmen ferrying essential goods to the north.

They had done this to hoodwink the police and security personnel manning road barriers along the Colombo-Vauniya road. But surprisingly nobody had been caught red handed in recent times attempting to smuggle military hardware to LTTE controlled areas.

While intelligence officers kept a constant surveillance on suspected persons in Colombo they were tipped off last Sunday on the movement of a lorry plying along Colombo Vavuniya road transporting hazardous chemicals to Vauniya. The message was promptly relayed to senior police officers in the north to be on the lookout for a lorry.

They in turn passed it on to the lower ranks manning the checkpoint on route to Vauniya.

In the meantime the lorry with 90 plastic jars containing 3600 litres of a liquid chemical suspected to be Sulphuric acid left Colombo last Sunday to Vauniya. After arriving at Medawachchiya late in the evening the chemical consignment was transferred to a Tipper lorry bearing the number plate 48-6617 at a lonely house close to the Medawachchiya police barrier.

The driver along with another man had travelled in the lorry from Colombo. There was a third man who had come in a motor cycle to escort the Tipper lorry at Medawachchiya.

They all met at a lonely house at Medawachchiya, just a few meters away from the police checkpoint. It was at this location where the consignment of 90 plastic jars containing liquid chemicals were transferred into a Tipper lorry.

In fact the motor cyclist was to escort the Tipper lorry on a different road to avoid the police checkpoint at Madawachchiya. Around 10. p.m. the Tipper lorry left the house escorted by the pilot motor cyclist and was proceeding along a by- road when a police party from Medawachchiya intercepted the vehicle.

Police found 90 plastic jars each containing 40 litres of a chemical similar to Sulphuric acid neatly arranged in the Tipper lorry. The police took in for questioning two men travelling in the lorry, L. Jayaprakash and M. Ponnarasa along with the motor cyclist all residents of the Vauniya area.

The motor cycle bearing the number NPP TC- 4954 was also taken charge by the police. The plausible explanation given by the suspects was that the liquid chemical was to be used in the manufacture of rubber at Vauniya. Police are investigating why the men had avoided the police checkpoint at Medawachchiya.

They are also probing whether the motor cyclist was a LTTE cadre who knew the shortest route to Wanni and whether he was knowledgable to by pass security checkpoints en route to Wanni.

DIG Anuradhapura, Kingsley Ekanayake who spoke to the Sunday Observer regarding the detection said the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had taken over the investigation owing to the serious nature of the matter.

Meanwhile police have sought the advice of the Government Analyst to positively identify the chemical. Police are now trying to locate the company from where the suspects had purchased the liquid chemical. It is still not clear for what purpose the liquid chemical was to be used and why it was transferred to Vauniya.

Meanwhile in a separate incident last week the Chilaw Police was tipped off that a man travelling in a bus bound to Puttalam was carrying with him some sophisticated equipment in a bag.

At the Chettikulan-Parayanam Kulam checkpoint, the police searched the passenger and found in his possession 32 digital satellite receivers. and 5 TV antennas. The suspect had told the police that he was to deliver this equipment to a contact in Mannar. The suspect along with the equipment was taken into custody by the Chilaw police.n

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