COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Tamil militiamen attacked a Sinhalese village in eastern Sri Lanka with axes, guns and daggers, killing at least 38 men, women and children Tuesday night, a police superintendent said.
The superintendent, Nimal de Silva of the Batticaloa district 135 miles east of Colombo, said, "We really do not know the exact death toll at Pullikuda village, but first reports indicate 75 houses were burned and at least 38 occupants massacred." He said Pullikuda is about six miles north of Batticaloa.
De Silva, contacted early today by telephone, also said six members of two Sinhalese families living in Batticaloa city were killed Tuesday night in another attack.
Earlier, officials said Tamil guerrillas had killed 14 Sinhalese, including eight soldiers, in revenge for the suicides of 12 Tamil militants while in police custody.
Members of the rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam dumped the bullet-riddled bodies of the soldiers at the Jaffna bus station early Tuesday, said officials who asked anonymity. The rebels had captured the soldiers in March.
Attacks on three police stations and a cement factory in northern Sri Lanka killed six people late Monday, the officials added.
The revenge killings came after 12 rebels killed themselves Monday by ingesting cyanide capsules to escape interrogation and identification while in government custody. The incident occurred at the Palaly military airfield on the Jaffna Peninsula.
The rebels had been arrested last week while allegedly trying to smuggle arms.
Challenge to Accord
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.
The killings Monday and Tuesday followed word from New Delhi that additional Indian army reinforcements will be sent to the island.