Muslims buried in Sri Lanka after being hacked to death

POTTUVIL, Sept 18 (AFP) – The bodies of 10 Muslim men found hacked to death were buried in the farming village of Pottuvil on Monday as the Tamil Tiger rebels and Sri Lankan forces blamed each other for the massacre. The victims, mostly between 20 and 27 years old, were brought to the Jumma Mosque in this eastern coastal area as shops closed in protest against the killings and police stepped up security.

Residents told reporters that police commandos were at loggerheads with locals and held the security forces responsible.

Police chief Chandra Fernando said there would be a full investigation.

Inspector-General Fernando, who was visiting the area some 325 kilometers (203 miles) east of Colombo, said the friction with the locals was over police cracking down on illegal logging in neighbouring forests.

“It is too early to point a finger,” Fernando told the residents.

He added that hundreds of commandos have been killed while protecting the residents against Tiger attacks in recent years.

About 500 villagers gathered at the burial site as heavily armed police ringed the area amid fears of reprisals.

Initially, the defence ministry said 11 people were killed, but a later count confirmed 10 had died