LTTE atrocities committed in May
|The Tristar aircraft blown in half|
Sri Lanka’s national airline was called Air Ceylon in the good old days. Later, the national carrier, which has won the hearts of many foreign tourists, was renamed Air Lanka before coming to be known as SriLankan Airlines.
At a time the nation is preparing to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the successful completion of the humanitarian operation and wiping out LTTE terrorism, we wish to focus on one of the most devastating acts of the Tiger terrorists who blasted an Air Lanka aircraft at the Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake exactly 27 years ago.
The Air Lanka flight UL 512 had taken off from London’s Gatwick Airport with a 20-member crew and over 100 passengers on board. The Lockheed L-1011-385 Tristar was heading for Male with three stopovers in Zurich, Dubai and Colombo. When the aircraft took off from the Dubai International Airport, it had 128 passengers onboard, apart from crew members.
However, the ill-fated Air Lanka flight could not reach its final destination, the Maldivian capital of Male, as the LTTE terrorists had planned to cut short its journey in Colombo, planting a powerful bomb inside the aircraft. It was after the Air Lanka flight had touched down at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) that the Tigers achieved their target, blasting the aircraft with a powerful bomb, in an act which shocked the world.
Over 21 people were killed and 41 others injured in the merciless attack. There had been 128 passengers on board at the time of the attack, including 25 British, five of whom were injured.
The UL 512 flight had been carrying mainly French, British and Japanese tourists and was about to take off after its third stopover at the BIA to Male when the bomb exploded, even shattering the windows of the BIA’s main passenger terminal. It was stated that the bomb may have been concealed in crates of meat and vegetables being freighted to the Maldives.
|The wreckage of the Tristar aircraft|
“All of a sudden, there was a massive, flash bang with flames,” one of the British survivors, Simon Ellis was quoted as saying. “The ceiling came down and my chair was blown backwards. When I managed to climb over the chairs, I looked out and there it was – there was nothing.
The plane had been blown in half just right behind our chairs.” He had recalled the horrifying experience.
This was one of the earliest evidence that the LTTE was not interested in peace talks. The LTTE had carried out the Air Lanka Tristar attack to hamper the then peace talks between the terror outfit and the Government, which was brokered by India.
This was not the only attack at the BIA during the LTTE’s three decades of terror. At the latter stages, they
even went to the extent of using assembled light aircraft to drop bombs near the BIA and the adjoining Sri Lanka Air Force Base at Katunayake. It was in such a background that the Government had to embark on the battle against terrorism.
Certain countries in the West which still show extraordinary concern over the human rights of the terrorists killed in action, must take a closer look at these numerous LTTE atrocities which brought nothing but misery to 20 million people.
This week marks the 27th anniversary of another attack carried out by the LTTE. On May 6, 1986, a massive bomb detonated by Tiger cadre inside the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) in the Colombo Fort killed 14 civilians who were at the office. In addition to those who had perished, not less than 114 people were injured in the attack that shook the capital.
Colombo’s CTO was at work during the morning rush hour as usual and the staff members were at their desks with the ‘hello girls’ having a busy time connecting calls or answering queries and the customers who had come to pay their phone bills.
|The attack in Anuradhapura, at the Sri Maha Bodhi (above)|
After the blast, there were shrieks and yells calling desperately for assistance, as some of those who were under the debris struggled to free themselves from the weight on them, but they were the luckier ones as 14 among them including some ‘hello girls’ would never breathe again.
The terrorists had planted a time bomb in the building, but no one knew how they managed to get in to perform their deadly mission.
The two-storey building, put up during the British colonial era, was a strong and handsome one and sat in the hub of activity of Colombo’s Fort area facing the main Lower Chatham Street that joined the Olcott Mawatha. It had a staff of about 150 and a number of people who had come there for various matters were also present.
The time on the clocks read 9.23 in the morning. A deafening explosion rocked the building. The glass on the windows splintered and flew about and shreds of wood and cement plaster, bricks and iron railings came down on the ground and first floor with the explosion. Some concrete slabs were broken and some of the debris fell on the inmates of the building.
Additional Government Analyst A.R.L. Wijesekere, who visited the scene on the same day, had said that a heavy explosives charge had been used and there was a possibility that more than one device had been employed. “The possibility that more than one device had been used has to be investigated,” he was quoted as saying. The explosives had been placed close to the public counters.
Rescue operations were necessarily slow as the floors above the basement were also investigated. The body of Assistant Postmaster S.B. Ranasinghe was taken out nearly two hours later.
CTO workers who were settling down for the day’s work in the basement office and in the payments section on the street-level, suffered the worst of the blast which was so severe that it sent shockwaves throughout the city.
After the CTO bomb explosion
Several government offices in the vicinity closed for the day, as workers panicked. The Ministry of State which was then situated across the street, ordered its employees to return home soon after the explosion.
On Tuesday, we mark the 28th anniversary of one of the deadliest terror attacks in world history. The entire nation and the Buddhist world were shocked at the news of the barbarism displayed by the notorious terrorist outfit at unarmed innocent civilians including the clergy, women and children. The attack was masterminded by the megalomaniac terror chieftain, Velupillai Prabhakaran himself, intended at flaming communal hatred and a spree of island-wide mob attacks targeting innocent Tamil civilians. The masses, however, though emotional and in tears, did not fall prey to the LTTE tactics.
The LTTE cadre hijacked a bus on May 14, 1985 and entered the sacred city of Anuradhapura, armed for another human massacre.
As the Tiger cadre entered the main bus station in Anuradhapura, they opened fire indiscriminately with automatic weapons, killing and wounding many civilians who were waiting for buses. As unarmed civilians in the town ran hysterically in all directions, many lay dead or bleeding with no knowledge of what was going on.
The armed terrorists then drove the bus to the Sri Maha Bodhi and indiscriminately opened fire, gunning down bhikkhus and civilian devotees who had been worshipping inside the shrine. The terrorists had opened indiscriminate gunfire at both the Uda Maluwa and Pahala Maluwa, killing scores of pilgrims and bhikkhus.
The armed terrorists then sprayed bullets, resulting in the sacred place being splattered with blood, as scores of meditating and worshipping bhikkhunis, white-clad observers of the Eight Precepts and other devotees lay dead or unconscious, having being struck by bullets. All in all, a total of 146 hapless people were gunned down by the LTTE terrorists while 85 people sustained serious injuries in the Anuradhapura attack. This was the first major operation carried out by the LTTE outside the North and the East.
On their way back, the LTTE strike force entered the national park of Wilpattu and killed 18 Sinhalese in the forest reserve.
LTTE leader Parithy, killed in France in November last year was a member of the terrorist group that carried out the Sri Maha Bodhi attack, according to the Head of International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Prof. Rohan Gunaratna.According to intelligence sources, Parithy, a supporter of the LTTE’s Nediyawan faction, had been killed by the Vinayagam faction which is now aligned with the US-based lawyer Rudrakumaran of the TETG. Parithy, whose real name was Nadarajh Matheenthiran and was known by the name Reagan in Sri Lanka, was appointed Head of LTTE in France in 2003 by Nediyawan who lives in Norway.
Prof. Gunaratna had said that Parithy had received terrorist training in Himachal Pradesh, India in 1984. He had participated in several terrorist attacks within Sri Lanka before fleeing to South India in 1990 after being injured by the IPKF.
These are a few of the many ruthless terror attacks carried out by the LTTE for over 25 years which ruined the country. All those who now vociferously talk on the so-called human rights of the LTTE terrorists being violated, have conveniently forgotten the same rights of the thousands of civilians butchered by the Tigers in broad daylight.
Thanks to the supreme sacrifices made by the Security Forces and the political sagacity of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, all communities are now living in peace and are reaping the rich dividends of peace. Hence, it is a shame for those in the West, who turned a blind eye when Sri Lanka was hit by terrorism, to point an accusing finger at us when we have achieved peace and all communities in the country are living in perfect harmony.
Courtesy : Sunday Observer