Investigations into the recent spate of killings in the deep south, initially blamed on the LTTE, have taken a new twist with the arrest of six Sinhalese including an army deserter and a civilian employed by the army.
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that four suspects were arrested Saturday morning on information elicited from two persons including the deserter arrested after they made an abortive bid to kill two farmers-M.M.K.Piyasena and Alvin Singho Wednesday night. The attackers had tried to slit their throats.
Rajapaksa said that one of the suspects is fluent in Tamil. He emphasized the importance in establishing the group`s motive and the origin of the conspiracy.
The farmers who survived the unprovoked attack had claimed that at least one of attackers shouted in Tamil. Police said that attackers wanted to destabilize the South by triggering chaos.
Police said that all victims of the gang were elderly men who couldn`t have fought back.
Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that the arrests were made by troops deployed in the area and the suspects were handed over to Tissamaharama police.
An unidentified gang killed five farmers and on November 10 exploded a claymore blast at Katagamuwa (Yala) after the LTTE killed seven soldiers at Talgasmankada on October 15.
The JVP alleged that a small group of LTTE cadres or a group of persons on the LTTE`s payroll was responsible for attacks which had affected the livelihood of about 3,400 families in the Tissamaharama, Ranminitenna, Thabarawa, Osuwinna, Gona Pattiya, Wewe Yaya and Horagaha Ulpatha.
On President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s directive, Basil Rajapaksa and IGP Victor Perera on November 10 visited Tissamaharama to reassure the people that everything would be done to track down the attackers.
Well informed sources said that JVP supporters living in affected areas had been supportive of the government`s efforts to track down the suspects. In fact, they were the first to insist that the attackers could be from the same area and alerted the authorities to the possibility of a group of Sinhalese on a systematic campaign of terror.
In this light, authorities are also taking a fresh look at the November 10 claymore attack at Katagamuwa which killed a construction worker and wounded another.
Several Sinhalese are in custody for their alleged involvement with the LTTE while the army has been rocked by the arrest of several officers including a Major who allegedly facilitated the LTTE suicide attack on Army Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Parami Kulatunga.