Topic started by Internet (@ 161.65-104.adsl.ij.net) on Tue Mar 16 04:44:07 EST 2004.
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Batticaloa and key towns in East at standstill
by Ranil Wijayapala and Ranga Jayasuriya
Life in Batticaloa, Ampara and Valachchenai in the East, came to a standstill yesterday as shops, schools and government offices were closed reportedly as a mark of support to breakaway LTTE Eastern Commander Karuna, Police and Security reports stated.
Reports stated that there were several mass demonstrations in Batticaloa,Ampara and Valachchenai in solidarity with Karuna.Effigies of LTTE leader Prabhakaran and his intelligence chief Pottu Amman were burnt.
However, according to Police, the situation remained calm despite he demonstrations Reports also said that the students attending the Eastern university from the North were leaving the university in fear.
Sources from the LTTE controlled areas in Batticaloa now under Karuna said the LTTE areas were under tight security in fear of possible infiltration of Wanni cadres.
LTTE Eastern Commander "Colonel" Karuna yesterday ridiculed the Wanni leadership's moves to restore its control in Batticaloa and Ampara districts as unrealistic, while offering the LTTE leader a "friendly partnership" on equal footing. "Karuna welcomes Mr Prabhakaran for a friendly partnership based on an equal footing for the development and well-being of our people," a spokesman for Karuna's office told the Daily News.
He shot down statements by the LTTE's Wanni leadership that it would retake control of the breakaway group.
"Those who know the ground reality realise how impossible it is," he said. He however said that Karuna will try hard to avoid clashes between his forces and cadres loyal to the Tiger leader.
Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan alias Karuna now controls 5,000-6,000 cadres which once made the core of the LTTE.
"We are not for war, we do not want fresh bloodshed," the spokesman, Varathan said.
The LTTE's newly appointed Batticaloa-Ampara Commander T. Ramesh and political chief Kaushalyan are still in Kilinochchi as Karuna took control of the LTTE in the East replacing Ramesh with Robert and Kaushalyan with Vishu.
Meanwhile, the LTTE's Wanni leadership moved to restore control in Trincomalee, after arresting Trinco Tiger commander 'Colonel' Paduman, who was inveigled to Kilinochchi where he is now under detention.
Reports reaching Colombo from Trincomalee said LTTE senior officials Swarnam, 'Balaraj' and Puleethevan who arrived in Trincomalee had taken over the Tiger ranks in Trincomalee .
This was a precautionary move intended to prevent Karuna from taking control of the Tiger ranks in Trincomalee.
Unconfirmed reports said the LTTE political chief in Trincomalee, Thilak had been arrested.
There were unconfirmed reports of clashes between the cadres loyal to the Wanni leadership and the breakaway faction on the A-5 road.
However, a spokesman for Karuna's Eastern headquarters, Varathan ruled out any clashes saying the A5 road was under its control.
The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) also said there were no reports about killings or any clashes in Batticaloa.