In a disturbing trend, LTTE terrorists are increasingly resorting to the use of places of Hindu worship in the North to carry out its diabolical plans and in the process bring disaffection to the Security Forces among the Tamil community when search operations are conducted on these premises.
Security Forces recovered large caches of weapons from at least five Hindu temples in the North in the recent past with shootouts occurring inside one such temple when troops entered the premises following a tip-off that weapons were hidden in its sanctum.
In addition some arms including grenades were found in a bag hidden behind the altar at the St. Mary`s Cathedral in Jaffna.
The latest trend of places of worship being used by the LTTE to conceal their armouries has caused concern among the Security Forces who are compelled to enter these premises. The Hindu priests are too terrified to resist the Tigers and are helpless to prevent the violation of the sanctity of the temples. Even Catholic shrines are not spared.
Hindu Temples are also being used by the Tigers as a convenient shield from which to fire at the Security Forces. On April 29, a group of sailors who entered the Mudipillaiyaar temple in Velani acting on a tip off that LTTEers were hiding in the premises were fired upon from within the temple.
The Tigers had no compunction for violating the temple sanctity when the group opened fire taking cover behind the `Chariot` and even climbed behind the adjacent thermutti (platform) as reported in the latest issue of the Frontline Magazine.
The 83-year-old priest was killed in the shootout while some Navymen were also hit. According to The Frontline `shortly after the shootout at the Mudipillaiyaar temple, another one in the area, the Puliyankoodal Muthumariamman temple, was in the eye of a storm.
The gopuram of the temple was being painted and Navymen, after the experience of Madipillaiyaar, were uneasy about the bamboo platform erected to facilitate the work. They wanted the platform dismantled.
A more elaborate search of the temple premises revealed a small cache of weapons including claymore mines and anti-personnel mines, concealed in the upper portion of the sanctum.`
Also in a separate incident, STF personnel acting on a tip off recovered some arms and four explosive laden vests from inside the famous Thaan Thondreeswar temple in Batticaloa.
Soldiers also found some arms and an explosives-laden belt from the Madaswamy temple at Pandarikulam in Vavuniya.
The discovery of the explosive laden belt comes in the wake of the emergence of a new breed of LTTE cadres who blow themselves up at random as distinct from the `Black Tigers` who take on specific targets, The Frontline added.