Sri Lanka security alert as Tigers mark Black July

July 23, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka Sunday stepped up its already tight security arrangements in the capital as Tamil Tiger rebels marked “Black July,” or the 23rd anniversary of anti-Tamil riots here, police said. Police and troops set up more road blocks and tightened security at key installations amid fears that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) could carry out attacks, a police official here said.

A Tiger landmine attack that killed 13 soldiers sparked anti-Tamil riots in this majority Sinhalese country in July 1983. An estimated 400 to 600 Tamils were killed by Sinhalese mobs as the then government tacitly backed rioters.

The 1983 riots were a watershed in the island’s drawn-out Tamil separatist conflict and saw the escalation of guerrilla activity.

More than 60,000 people have been killed in the drawn out conflict since the start of the LTTE in 1972.

“We have increased our mobile patrols and the checkpoints during this Black July week starting today,” a senior police officer here said.

He said military units were on stand by to help police.

For their part, the Tiger rebels are known to organise religious services to invoke blessings on those who perished in the July 1983 riots a