14 November 2007

Dead Tamil tigers-displayed naked

Chennai/Colombo, 26 Oct. (AKI/Asian Age) - The separatist rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have accused the Sri Lankan military of abusing the conventions relating to the treatment of the war-dead by parading the naked bodies of the 21 of their fighters killed during the rebels' pre-dawn attack on the Anuradhapura airbase on Monday. There were three women rebel fighters among the suicide attack forces of the LTTE, known as the Black Tigers. The rebel groups sent emails petitioning the United Nations over the matter. Independent media reports, backed by gruesome photographs taken on site, said the Sri Lankan troops on Tuesday paraded the naked bodies of the Tamil Tiger commandos killed in their attack on the key northern airbase. The reports said that the army had stripped the bodies of the Black Tigers before putting them on display for the mainly Sinhalese residents near the Anuradhapura airbase. A large crowd of locals, mostly Sinhalese residents, gathered to look at the naked corpses and mutilated body parts loaded in trailers pulled by two farm tractors to the hospital mortuary. Some people even took pictures and a few others filmed the gory scene, reports said.

Faced with widespread criticism, the military has now denied humiliating the dead and argued it became necessary to strip the Black Tigers for any "hidden suicide devices" under their jungle fatigues.While it claimed that the bodies were wrapped in black polythene bags, photographs of the trailer packed with naked bodies and a huge gathering of residents watching in the rain, proved otherwise. The military also said the bodies had been since buried. The opposition Lankadissent.com website alleged that the bodies were displayed "to prevent the mentality of defeat from entering the public mindset in the aftermath of this major military debacle." The site also published pictures of the tractors in procession. The military too had on Tuesday posted photographs of some of the killed Tigers sprawled on the airbase tarmac, some charred, one with eyes wide open and another with a gaping hole in his head. The pro-Tiger Puthinam Tamil website reported that the rebel leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran paid his respects to the Black Tigers killed in the air base attack at a well-organised ceremony on Thursday. It said Prabhakaran garlanded the photographs of the 'martyrs' and lit memorial lamps. Meanwhile, the pro-Tiger website, Tamilnet, quoted the LTTE spokesman Irasiah Ilanthirayan saying that their rebel commando unit Thursday evening ambushed a Sri Lanka Navy bus carrying more than 25 personnel, in Thissamaharama in the Hambantota division of the southern province, killing 6 naval officials and wounding 12.Thissamaharama is 174 kilometres southeast of Colombo and 118 kilometres south of Ampaarai town; it also falls within the parliamentary constituency of the Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa. Earlier in the day, the Sri Lankan government said its fighter jets bombed "identified Tamil Tiger position" in the northern region of the country for the second day causing "severe damage", while the rebels commemorated its members killed in the pre-dawn attack on Monday. The Media Centre for National Security said an airstrike was launched against a well-identified Tamil Tiger position, which was "posing a threat" to one of the army front defence lines in the northern Vavuniya district and the rebels sustained 'severe' damage. Earlier on Wednesday, the military claimed Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets raided an LTTE "Black Tiger" training facility at in Mulaittivu in the rebel-held Vanni inflicting heavy damages.

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