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Sunday, 15 May 2011





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The LTTE's trail of destruction

The LTTE which started as a separatist political organisation way back in mid seventies turned out to be a ruthless killer outfit with the assassination of Jaffna Mayor Alfred Doraiappa in 1976. Velupillai Prabhakaran didn't tolerate any other person who opposed his political philosophy and he made sure that any element disagreeable with him was wiped out from the society. Some of the founder members broke away from him and founded their own parties with different names.

However, Prabhakaran managed to disseminate his killer political vision with the able support rendered by some of his close confidents locally and internationally claiming that he was the sole representative of Tamil community. Within a period of less than a decade his movement became very strong and started killing not only Sinhala politicians but also unarmed innocent civilians.

The military wing of the movement was very powerful and he was the first terror leader who was successful in forming a suicide squad through which he carried out the destruction in Sri Lanka.

Starting from J.R. Jayewardene, all successive Presidents and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tried to bring about a negotiated settlement to the so-called ethnic problem but most unfortunately none of them were able to stop this megalomaniac's atrocities and finally it came to a stage where the mass killing, destruction of invaluable properties both private and state owned were the order of the day.

Central Bank

The Central Bank bombing was one of the deadliest terrorist attacks carried out by the LTTE. The attack took place on January 31, 1996.

A lorry (42-6452) containing about 440 pounds of high explosives crashed through the main gate of the Central Bank. As gunmen traded fire with security guards, the suicide bomber in the lorry detonated the massive bomb, which tore through the bank and damaged eight other buildings nearby. The lorry was followed by a three wheeler, carrying two LTTE cadres armed with automatic rifles and an RPG launcher.

The blast killed at least 100 people and injured 1,400 others.

At least 100 people lost their eyesight. Among the wounded were two US citizens, six Japanese, and one Dutch national. Most of these were bystanders or civilians manning small shops set up near the bank.

While the bomber Raju died immediately, the back up team Subramanium Vigneswaram alias Kittu and Sivasamy Dharmendra alias Raju, were apprehended by law enforcement officers with information provided by the public.

Police and the security forces launched a massive manhunt for others involved in this terrorist incident. It was eventually determined the bombers had come from Jaffna and were LTTE members.

This bombing, and one in July on a train that killed more than 70, caused tourism to plummet 40% in Sri Lanka. Until 2006, the Central Bank bombing was the deadliest LTTE bombing.

The blast shook the capital for miles around. Everywhere people stopped in their tracks, staring at the ominous plume of debris and smoke rising in a column from the heart of the city.

Fire trucks and rescue personnel raced to the scene as the news spread - the Central Bank had been bombed.

The buildings around were severely damaged. The most horrifying and unfortunate the date was January 31, 1996; a date that would be remembered not just by Sri Lankans, but by the entire international community as one of the most devastating terrorist bombings of the 1990s.

Today, 15 years later, the event is still a harsh reality they live with for many Sri Lankans.

At the Central Bank - which was the intended target of the LTTE suicide bombers - 41 people lost their lives instantly and nearly 1,400 people were injured.

Of this number, 26 people were to be permanently incapacitated.

Blindness, loss of limbs, along with varied injuries meant they would never again be able to enjoy the life they had once taken for granted.

For other families, the bomb simply snatched away their loved ones, leaving behind a grief that is yet to fade, 15 years down the line.

One can write pages and pages about the destruction caused by the LTTE during this period. The LTTE not only killed innocent unarmed civilians, but also members of clergy.

The massacre of 31 Buddhist Samanera Monks and three laymen in the remote area of Arantalawa in 1987 was one of the ugliest crimes committed by the LTTE. It was a cowardly act. No peace loving people would accept such a drastic act. About 34 young Samanera Buddhist monks were travelling in a bus from Ampara to Kandy to participate in a Upasampadawa ceremony.

When the bus with 33 monks and three laymen were proceeding in a jungle area at Arantalawa about five LTTE cadres forcibly stopped the bus, blocking the road and boarded it. They ordered the driver to proceed to a nearby jungle. The terrorists who had no morals or principles first gunned down the bus crew. Thereafter, they robbed the cash and other valuable items of young samanera theras.

One elderly monk who was the guardian of the young Samanera Theras bravely stood up and requested the terrorists to shoot him, leaving other monks.

The elderly monk repeatedly pledged the terrorists to release the Samanera Theras as they were going to an important religious event in Kandy. But the terrorists fired at all monks and thereafter hacked them with knives and swords.

The whole episode was later revealed by two Samanera Theras who had hidden under the seats fearing that they too would be killed. The two monks had also received injuries.

The terrorists fled the area after a few minutes on hearing about the arrival of armed forces.

Then President J.R. Jayewardene visited the area and ordered the Police and Armed Forces to take immediate steps to evacuate injured to hospital and search for the fleeing LTTEers.

The massacre near the Sri Maha Bodhi premises at Anuradhapura will never be erased from the minds of the people. The incident took place during the morning hours in the Vesak month of May 1985. A large number of devotees were observing Sil, while some other pilgrims were performing religious rites. Suddenly the devotees who were in the Vihara Maluwa panicked after seeing young men armed with guns.

Soon they realised some LTTEers had come for an attack. They came by bus posing as pilgrims. The devotees had never thought the terrorists would harm them.

They opened fire at devotees indiscriminately. The incident ended within 20 minutes.

According to Police reports, over 120 male and female devotees were killed by terrorists. When the security forces arrived, the terrorists had already fled the area with weapons. The devotees were in a pool of blood.

The Security Forces with the help of villagers took immediate steps to evacuate the injured to hospital. Thereafter Security Forces cordoned off the area and took a large number of armed LTTEers into custody.

The massive carnage committed by the LTTE inside the Ceylon Telegraph Office (CTO) building in the heart of Colombo still haunts the hearts of people.

The incident occurred in May 1986. It was around 11.00am. Many buildings in the city were shaken due to the powerful bomb that exploded inside the CTO.

Not only the employees, but also a number of customers who were inside the building at the time were killed and wounded.

The Fort Police later revealed that over 16 people were killed and nearly 120 people injured. The injured were rushed to the National Hospital and 20 people were in a critical condition. After a few days the death toll rose to 32.

The first attack at Katunayaka Airport took place in 1986.

Some LTTE members had lived around the Airport premises for a considerable period of time to launch the attack.

The motive was not only to attack aircraft which were parked at the airport, but also to attack both local and foreign passengers. Their motive was to stop foreigners visiting Sri Lanka on holidays and for other official purposes. They destroyed the Tristar (UL 512) which was due to take off to the Maldives. The aircraft broke into two. There were 123 passengers in the aircraft.

According to Police 23 passengers died, while about 40 were injured.

The LTTE had committed thousands of crimes during their thirty -year terror period. Among them are the killing of Former President R. Premadasa, Former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, Minister Lalith Atulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayaka, Neelam Tiruchelvem, Alfred Doraiappa and Ranjan Wijeratna.

The bomb blasts in the Dehiwala train, Ceylon Cold Stores, Habarana- Trincomalee Road, Pettah bomb blast where over 85 people were killed and more than 100 injured will never be forgotten.

The situation completely changed after the death of LTTE leader on May 18, 2009.

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