The Mannar Bishop, Rev Rayappu Joseph, said yesterday that he had strictly ordered the LTTE not to enter the Madhu Church premises for any purpose.
We have strictly told the LTTE to leave the church alone as it is a religious place, he said.
Dismissing the claim made by Minister Keheliya Rambukwella that the LTTE was moving about freely in the church premises, the bishop said there had been no armed LTTE cadres in the vicinity during the past few days, after strict orders were issued by him.
He explained that he made such a request as people come and camp just outside the church, especially at festival time. However, the bishop said, there was a jungle beyond the camp site where the LTTE may loiter, especially at night. Since this area is full of scrub we don t really know what goes on there at night, he added.
Meanwhile, the Administrator of Madhu Church, Fr. Emil Irasupillai, who also confirmed the situation, said LTTE cadres often moved along the main road near the church but did not come to the church premises. We have no authority over the main road, therefore it is not possible to forbid those movements, Fr. Emil said.
Fr. Emil said there were two shell attacks near the church yesterday. The shells had fallen into a pond nearby and not exploded. He however did not lay the blame on anyone for this attack.
He added that people who were clearing the area where the bus blast took place on Tuesday had been shelled. I was at the blast sight and two shells were fired by someone, he said.