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15 Fishermen Reported Slain by Tamil Militants

November 12, 1987|Associated Press

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Tamil militants killed 15 Sinhalese fishermen in eastern Sri Lanka on Wednesday as the men were going to market to sell their catch, military officials said.

The fishermen were gunned down in Batticaloa district, 145 miles northeast of Colombo, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. They blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the main Tamil rebel group.

A peace pact signed July 29 is aimed at ending the Tamils' four-year war for autonomy, but violence blamed on both Tamils and majority Buddhist Sinhalese has hampered the peace process. Tamils, who are mostly Hindus, make up 18% of Sri Lanka's 16 million population. They charge that they are discriminated against by the Buddhist Sinhalese.

More than 30 people were killed Monday in Colombo when a powerful bomb exploded near a major bus stop. Several acts of sabotage were reported Tuesday in the south.

In Colombo, an Indian High Commission official said 36 Tamil militants were killed and at least six Indian soldiers injured in the last two days of fighting in the northern Jaffna peninsula.

Parliament debated for a second day on two laws designed to facilitate the peace plan.

Troops Enforce Accord

The plan was mediated by India, which is Sri Lanka's northern neighbor and has a large Tamil population. About 20,000 Indian troops are in Sri Lanka to enforce the accord.

President Junius R. Jayewardene's governing United National Party is divided over the peace agreement, which calls for the rebels to lay down their arms in exchange for Sri Lanka creating provincial councils to govern Tamil-dominated areas.

The People's Liberation Front, the Sinhalese extremist group, has vowed to kill lawmakers who support the accord. It believes the pact grants too many concessions to Tamils.

The government issued warnings Tuesday over the radio, declaring that sabotage, arson and destruction of vital property would be punishable by life imprisonment or death.

The warning came after saboteurs believed to be Sinhalese radicals removed rail tracks, blew up a power transmitter and burned state-owned buses in the Sinhalese heartland in the south.

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