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Tamils Execute 8 in Revenge for Suicides of 12 Captured Rebels

October 07, 1987|From Times Wire Services

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Tamil militants executed eight captured soldiers and attacked state-run institutions Tuesday in revenge for the suicides of 12 Tamil rebel prisoners, reports said Tuesday.

Members of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam dumped the soldiers' bullet-riddled bodies at a Jaffna bus station Tuesday morning, military officials said. The soldiers had been captured in March.

In other attacks late Monday and on Tuesday, Tamil militants shot to death the Sinhalese manager of a state-run cement factory in Jaffna and his deputy and killed a policeman and wounded three at Vavuniya in the north, police said.

The revenge killings came after 17 rebel prisoners took cyanide capsules while in government custody Monday in an attempt to escape interrogation and identification. Twelve died and five were hospitalized in Palaly on the Jaffna Peninsula.

The 17 had been arrested last week while allegedly trying to smuggle arms.

The renewed violence presented a serious challenge to a peace agreement signed July 29 by Sri Lanka and India and aimed at ending four years of ethnic strife on the island. The minority Tamils, who are mostly Hindus, have been seeking a separate state in the northern and eastern portions of the country, which is dominated by Sinhalese Buddhists.

A Liberation Tigers spokesman in Madras, India, speaking by telephone after the suicides, said his group is not bound to observe the cease-fire "if our leaders and cadres are allowed to die." He said he was quoting from a Liberation Tigers letter to Indian authorities.

Under the accord, the Tamil rebels agreed to surrender their weapons, and India,, which has a large Tamil population, stationed about 9,000 peacekeeping troops on the island.

Reinforcements Ordered

The killings Monday and Tuesday followed word from New Delhi that additional Indian army reinforcements will be sent.

Residents arriving in Vavuniya from Jaffna said tension was mounting in the north and that camps of the Indian troops were surrounded by Tamils. Vavuniya is about 150 miles northeast of Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital.

Meanwhile, the Indian troops in the eastern district of Trincomalee on Monday shot to death three Tamil militants who were attempting to burn a store, the Sun newspaper reported Tuesday.

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