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16 Tamil Civilian Christians Killed by Bombing in Sri Lanka

ICC Note:
Government kills 16 innocent Christian civilians in bomb attack purportedly meant to target rebel fighters.

SVM News (01/06/07) – Sixteen innocent Tamil Civilian Christians including seven children under ten years killed and around 60 injured by aerial bombing that took place at Padahu Thurai near Illupaikadavai, in the un-cleared area of the District of Mannar in Sri Lanka on 2nd of January, 2007.

Four planes of Israeli K-fir jet bombers swooped down from the skies on Tuesday at 9. 35 am. There were twelve explosions in ten minutes. Catholic parish priest Rev. Father Arulnathan said to SVM News Service.

Illuppaikkadavai is a small village. Its population had increased over the years with more than 4000 displaced people from other parts of the North seeking refuge there. The village falls within areas in Mannar district controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Mr. D.B.S. Jeyaraj described.

The place along the sea shore where fisherfolk beach and launch their boats and rafts is generally known as Padaguthurai. Such places known as Padaguthurai are widely prevalent in coastal areas with a fishing tradition.

All families in Padaguthurai remaining at home to celebrate the new year on 1st of January. None went out to sea. The following day of Jan 2nd began with a lingering hangover from the previous day’s festivity. But aerial terror was to strike.

The exponents of aerial terror flew away leaving behind a scene of death and destruction. Around 25 of the Padaguthurai dwellings were destroyed and damaged. The thatched cadjan roofs caught fire in many instances. About 50 – 60 people were injured. Some of them succumbed to injuries.. There were people whose bodies were blown to pieces. Others were maimed losing limbs.

There were two small hospitals in the region. One was at Mulankaavil to the north and the other at Pallamadhu to the South of Iluppaikkadavai. But they did not provide the needed assistance. The closest big hospital was at Mannar town only a 40 minutes ride away. An urgent message was sent. Mannar hospital authorities promptly despatched two ambulances.

The entry – exit point for the Government of Sri lanka (GOSL) and LTTE controlled areas was at Uyilankulam. The security officials at Uyilankulam refused to let the ambulances go to Iluppaikkadavai. No amount of pleading by civilian officials would make the army relent. This was not due to the individual whims of security personnel. They were acting on orders from the Defence ministry in Colombo.

There is a visible design here. In the East the security personnel at the Mankerny entry – exit point display the same conduct when it comes to helping the beleaguered civilians of Vaaharai get medical treatment. There too the callous cruelty is due to orders from Colombo.

The next best alteranative was the hospital at Kilinochchi which is an LTTE controlled area. Two ambulances drove down from Kilinochchi and transported the serious cases there. Instead of being taken to Mannar hospital that was only 15 miles away the injured had to be taken to Kilinochchi 60 miles away.

27 people from Padaguthurai were warded at Kilinochchi. Those classified as “less serious” among the injured received treatment at the Pallamadhu and Mulankaavil hospitals. Eight bodies were at Pallamadhu and five at Mulankaavil. The body of a youth killed in the bombing was taken away by the tigers. The victim was a member of the LTTE and had come on “leave” for the new year to visit his family at the mother – in – law’s place in Padaguthurai. Sinnathurai Vejendran, the Village Service Officer (Gram Sevak) told to SVM News.

Mrs. Anthonipillai Rasakumari (52) and her children Anthonipillai Kutti (26), Anthonipillai Velastin (30), Velastin’s husband Kugan (34), their 4-year-old daughter Dayalini and 2-year-old son Dayalan, 1-year-old baby boy Madusan, V. Tharsini (8), Johnson (9), Vinosan (6), Uthayakumar (55), V. Vijitha (28), Kili (32) are among the dead. The killed LTTE cadre’s name is not known yet.

Two of those admitted to Kilinochchi hospital died subsequently. 27 year old Malini Uthayakumar and her 18 month daughter Dharshika died in the hospital.

At least ten of the injured in the Kilinochchi hospital are under ten years of age. Three pregnant women are also seriously injured. Of the twenty – five warded at Kilinochchi seventeen are reportedly serious. Among them six are said to be in critical condition. Five of the injured have lost limbs. The eyesight of another three is impaired severely. Some of those killed too had their limbs blown away.

The bombing at Iluppaikkadavai and the damage inflicted on civilians caused shock tremors as details began to emerge. A Press Release on the incident was issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“Sri Lankans continue to suffer deeply due to this conflict, and today’s loss of life is a source of deepest concern,” said Margareta Wahlstrom, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Acting Emergency Relief Coordinator. “It is imperative that both sides to the conflict take all measures to fulfil their obligations under international law to protect civilians in this conflict; we have too often seen them fall short in this duty.”

“The United Nations calls once more for a cessation of hostilities between the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and resumption of the peace process, and recalls the responsibility of all parties to the conflict to protect civilians and uphold international human rights and humanitarian law”

Even as this civilian tragedy was unfolding the official version related a different tale. The Sri Lanka army website had this to say -: ” Mannar with a view to eradicating Sea Tiger capabilities in north of Mannar, Air Force Kfir jets this morning bombed several identified Tiger terrorist targets in Illuppailadavai, Mannar and Panichchankerni of Vakere.

The LTTE is currently spreading false information that the SLAF has bombed a civilian settlement in an attempt to discredit the Security Forces and to win the sympathy of the International Community. The Air Force categorically denies bombing a civilian settlement north of Mannar.

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Mannar – Vavuniya Diocese Rt. Rev Joseph Rayappu was at Iluppaikkadavai at 12. 45 pm on the day of the bombing. He inspected Padaguthurai and spoke with survivors. He also made detailed inquiries about the alleged presence of an LTTE sea tiger base in the vicinity. The prelate also went to Pallamadhu hospital.

Thereafter Bishop Rayappu who has met Mahinda Rajapakse, the President of Sri Lanka on more than one occasion wrote a letter on the bombing incident. He also released the letter to the media.

“I, in the presence of the Catholic priest of this area saw eight civilian bodies of the above tragedy at the Pallamadhu hospital out of whom three were children of 2, 6 & 11 years old. They were all limbless and three of them headless. The parish Priest of this area had seen five bodies of civilians known to him who succumbed to death at Mulankavil hospital, this morning. I was told by the Doctor of the Pallamadhu hospital that more than 35 wounded people had been dispatched to Mulankavil hospital and from there, nearly 25 serious cases had been sent to Kilinochchi hospital most of whom are, I was told children and women. A good number of these may not survive, I was told by a doctor. There were no LTTE killed in this incident except one who was on leave and had come in civil, minutes before the attack to this place to pay New Year visit to his mother-in-law, as I came to know from my inquires.” Bishop Rayappu said.