MASSACRE OF MUSLIMS IN KATHANKUDI
On 3 August 1990, about 200 Muslims engaged in their Friday prayers at the Meera Jumma and the Hussaina Mosques in the village of Kathankudy were attacked by a group of gunmen, who arrived in several vehicles. More than 140 people were killed and another 87 were injured in the automatic gunfire and grenade attacks.
The mosques are situated on a narrow strip of land about 1.5 Km. wide, with the Indian ocean on one side and the lagoon on the other. The entire area is FULLY UNDER THE CONTROL of the Sri Lankan army. Both roads leading to the village had army check points, and a 'group of armed men' in 'many vehicles' could not have entered the village unseen by the army. Not only did they enter the village unseen, but also every one of the gunmen ESCAPED, unharmed and unidentified.
The Sri Lanka army and the government immediately blamed the LTTE.
The LTTE denied responsibility, stating that this was part of the government strategy to drive a wedge between the Tamils and the Muslims. In a subsequent report they cited several examples of such machinations.
This attack occurred when the Sri Lanka Defense Minister, Ranjan Wijeratne, was on a TOUR OF ISLAMIC COUNTRIES IN THE MID- EAST, to solicit financial and military assistance to fight the war against Tamils.
NO OFFICIAL INQUIRY WAS HELD, but the government paid generous compensation to the families of the deceased and injured, with uncharacteristic haste (the next day). Thereafter, for several weeks there were news-reports both in the Sri Lanka media and abroad, quoting Muslim area residents stating that the killing was carried out by the LTTE.
The only impartial scrutiny of this incident to date was by GERRIT BUSCH, a journalist with der uberblick, a German publication. He, accompanied by Fr. Miller (an American Jesuit Priest who resides in Batticaloa), visited Kathankudy and interviewed several residents. Both concluded that the LTTE was not responsible for these attacks.
Fr. Eugene Herbert, another American Jesuit Priest and an associate of Fr. Miller, was arrested by the army a week after these massacres and has DISAPPEARED.
In the following weeks at least 450 Muslim and Tamil civilians were killed, some in attacks similar to above and others by enraged civilians. The Sri Lanka government was successful in creating dissension between Tamils and Muslims in the eastern province, where the two communities had lived in harmony for several centuries.