Three dead and curfew in Northeast Sri Lanka

Chandi Dharmaratne

COLOMBO, Sept 20, 2006 (AFP) – Three people were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in northeast Sri Lanka, police said Wednesday, and a curfew was put in place in a nearby town following an earlier massacre of 10 Muslim men. Tamil rebels have waged a drawn-out insurgency for a separate ethnic homeland in Sri Lanka, a majority Sinhalese nation. More than 60,000 people have died since the rebellion began in 1972. The three men were shot dead in two separate incidents in the Trincomalee district on Wednesday evening, police said, adding that they suspected Tamil Tiger rebels were involved.

There was no immediate word from the Tigers, but police in the eastern town of Pottuvil imposed a curfew following tension two days after the massacre of the 10 men.

“There was a clash between a mob and police commandos,” a local police officer in the area said by telephone.

He said the police opened fire on a group of Muslims who mobbed a police Special Task Force jeep and at least four people were wounded.

The curfew was ordered after the shooting.

Local residents accused the Special Task Force of killing the 10 men, while the government blamed the Tigers for the massacre.

The government on Tuesday ordered an investigation.