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Sri Lanka Army says Jaffna killings and abductions are nothing really out of the ordinary

Dec 31, 2010 9:30:19 AM- transcurrents.com

'Fear still prevails' in Jaffna

By Charles Haviland
BBC news, Colombo

Reports from the main city of northern Sri Lanka, Jaffna, say people there are living in fear because of a current series of killings, abductions and robberies.

Among those killed by unidentified assailants within the past three weeks were a Hindu priest and an education official.

The army, which has a heavy presence there, has expressed some concern while saying it is nothing really out of the ordinary.

The Sri Lankan government usually excludes foreign journalists from Jaffna.

Violent crime has been rising in and around the mainly Tamil city to such an extent that the municipal council issued a statement urging the government to stop it.

The Jaffna councillors say they want the president and defence secretary to take action.

The local army chief, Maj-General Mahinda Hathurusinghe, told the BBC he was “worried” that the killing of a local education official last Sunday remained a mystery.

He was shot in front of his teenage daughter.

Three weeks ago a Hindu priest was killed and two of his sons seriously injured and this week a young businessman was abducted and stabbed to death; some accounts say he was beheaded.

Reports say another youth was abducted on Thursday and his body has now been found, but the military denies the entire incident.

People have taken to going out at night in groups rather than alone.

The government has now issued a statement denying reports which, it said, sought to discredit the government and ascribe a political motive to some of the killings.

It specifically denied that the education official was killed for condemning the singing of the national anthem in the majority language, Sinhala, rather than the local one, Tamil, at a function the same morning.

The local army chief, General Hathurusinghe, said the killing of the priest earlier in December was the work of two former Tamil Tiger fighters working in cooperation with a government army corporal.

All had been arrested, he told the BBC. courtesy: BBC Sandeshaya