Saturday?s LTTE-led protest in Jaffna had been a deliberate bid to provoke troops, security forces spokesman Brigadier Daya Ratnayake said.
For about three hours, LTTE cadres and several civilians had desperately tried to provoke troops and police at several places, particularly at Meesalai, Sarasalai and Puttur. According to Brigadier Ratnayake, they had blocked roads and had set fire to a Palmyra fence and the fire had spread to a nearby sentry point at Meesalai-Puttur junction. Subsequently, they had gathered outside the Kodikamam police station. `They threw stones at police,` Ratnayake said, emphasizing that minimum force was used to disperse the crowd.
The spokesman said that about 60 persons had been involved in the disturbances. Initially there had been about 30 persons, he said, underscoring the fact that the civilians had clearly rejected the LTTE call for a hartal in protest against the recent killing of Ampara-Batticaloa LTTE leader Kaushalyan.
Brigadier Ratnayake pointed out that their success depended on the army?s reaction.
`We didn?t fire at them. Basically, we kept our distance, allowing them to engage in their latest protest. They only troubled the ordinary people,` a senior Jaffna-based military official told The Island. `They could have easily taken advantage if we fired even a few rounds. But troops kept their cool,` he said, emphasizing that no shots were fired during the disturbances.
Another official said that Saturday?s ?show? had been part of their campaign aimed at emphasizing the public resentment over the recent Welikanda killings. He stressed that the people wouldn?t be dense to believe the military had been taking sides in the ongoing battle for supremacy in the Ampara-Batticaloa region. The LTTE-run media had been there in force. `But our troops didn?t give them a story,` he said.