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Civilians will be dealt under PTA – army


More than 120 people have been arrested in Jaffna for vigilante attacks  
Saroj Pathirana
Those who attack military and police installations are “terrorists” and will be charged with country’s anti-terror regulations, says Sri Lanka military.

Military spokesman Brig Nihal Hapuarachchi told BBC Sandeshaya that over 120 people were recently arrested in Jaffna as they came to attack a military camp.

“They attacked a joint army-police camp. It is a terrorist act,” he said.

“It is wrong for civilians to attack an army camp or police station. Those who do that are terrorists. We will take action against them under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA),” added Brig Hapuarachchi.

At a recent meeting with Muslim imams, Sri Lanka’s defence secretary said that, just as the army defeated “terrorists”, it would act against anyone making trouble.

‘Make fun with military’

“Please remind your people how the military tackle with terrorists. Don’t try to make fun with the military,” Mr Rajapaksa said.

‘Please remind your people how the military tackle with terrorists. Don’t try to make fun with the military’

Residents in Jaffna say that fear prevails in the cultural heartland of Tamils due to continuing attacks on women by night prowlers, named as ‘grease devils’ widely in minority dominated areas of the country.

However, the military spokesman categorically denied the existence of any grease devil, in Jaffna or anywhere in the island.

“I myself visited Jaffna on Thursday, there is no fear at all there. The army and the police took action to control the situation where there have been fear in some places,” he said.

Residents in Jaffna claim otherwise.

Sithambara Udayar Kanagasingham, a senior lawyer in Jaffna, says that day to day life is interrupted due to fear of nocturnal prowlers.

‘Fear’ in Jaffna

For the first time, he says, residents in Kandavil, Jaffna apprehended a young man suspected to be a “grease devil” and handed him over to the police on Thursday night.

“The prevalent belief is that the police and military are more interested in intimidating residents than dealing with the attackers.”

Military has been called into Puttalam under emergency regulations to deal with unrest

Mr Kanagasingham adds that people in Jaffna, especially women are afraid of going out in night.

Military spokesman categorically denied accusations of severely assaulting the protesters before or after arresting them.

An unnamed military source, however, has told the BBC’s Charles Haviland in Colombo that the military used physical force against vigilante crowds.

In an interesting development, says Mr Kanagasingham, electricity supply in those areas where grease devil attacks happened abruptly disconnected at the time of the attack.

The military source told the BBC that they suspect former Tamil Tigers to be behind the attacks on military.

“I doesn’t have to be Tamil Tigers. But anybody who attacks the military is a terrorist,” was the response by Brig Hapuarachchi.

Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times newspaper meanwhile reports that a group of women activists is to petition the Supreme Court on the grounds that the state is failing in its duty to protect women from these perpetrators.

The papers editorial also accused the police and law enforcement authorities of failing to protect the victims.

BBC Sinhala service

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