Sri Lankan fisherman tells of massacre on navy-held islet

From left: Dr. Fernando Im, Senior Country Economist for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, The World Bank, Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, Dr. W A Wijewardana, Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Prof. Indralal de Silva, Former (Chair) of Demography, University of Colombo, Prof. Amala de Silva, Department of Economics, University of Colombo at the panel discussion on "Demographic Change in Sri Lanka" moderated by Dr. Ramani Gunatilaka, International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

JAFFNA, Sri Lanka, May 22, 2006 (AFP) – An elderly Sri Lankan fisherman described Monday how gunmen shot dead six members of his family on a navy-controlled northern Sri Lankan islet and left him wounded in both legs. The man, 61, lies on a hospital bed at the Jaffna Teaching Hospital with white bandages around both his thighs.

A doctor said he had been shot twice.

Too fearful to be publicly identified, the grey-bearded man told AFP the massacre happened on the evening of May 13 in Allaipiddy on the islet near the northern town of Jaffna.

“Around 8:30 the armed forces came and shot the people,” he said softly through a translator.

“They had green-coloured T-shirts and black-coloured jeans,” he said, admitting that he was only assuming the killers were from the military.

Refugees who have fled Allaipiddy for rebel-held Kilinochchi town have blamed the navy for the massacre, which happened two days after a rebel Tamil Tiger suicide attack killed 18 crewmen on a navy gunboat.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who are fighting for a homeland for minority Tamils, have also blamed the navy for killing the Tamil civilians in an area where it said the guerrillas had no access.