TRINCOMALEE, May 1 (AFP) – There’s nothing quite like a bloody bombing followed by a strict night curfew to deliver the kiss of death to normal day-to-day life in a town, as residents of Trincomalee will testify. Although the curfew in the strategic northeastern Sri Lankan port town only begins at 10:00 pm, the streets empty as soon as darkness falls around 6:30 pm.
Well before curfew hour, the town — which in normal times is bustling till way past midnight — is left to soldiers, police and stray dogs.
With troops stopping vehicles every 100 meters (yards) or so to demand identity documents and to search bags, it is not much fun going out at night anyway, says a local student, who gave his name only as Bawa.
“It’s also dangerous to be on the streets at night,” he said. “We head home as soon as it gets dark. You never know what could happen to you on the streets with so much security around.”
The curfew was imposed immediately after a massive bomb exploded at the local market on April 12, killing 17 people, mostly civilians.
The government and many Sinhalese locals blamed the blast on Tamil Tiger rebels.
Two days after the attack, on the Sinhalese New Year, Sinhalese mobs retaliated by att