Colombo Telegraph

Mannar Mass Grave Skeletons Now Up To 50

The number of skeletal remains discovered at the Mannar mass grave site keeps rising with the number now surpassing 50, the Press Trust of India reports.

The site was initially discovered when construction workers stumbled upon the grave as they dug the ground to lay water supply connections late December last year in Thirukatheeswaram area in Mannar District.

Police spokesman and Senior Superintendent Ajith Rohana said further digging will be continued with the deployment of a team from the crime investigation department to assist in investigations. Three more skulls were found today, Rohana said. With this, the total skeletal remains discovered stand at 50, the PTI report said.

A team of forensic experts led by Judicial Medical Officer Dhananjaya Waidyaratne earlier stated that bodies had been buried in several layers at the site. This was the first discovery of a mass grave in the former conflict zone since the war ended. Digging of the site took place in the presence of magisterial and judicial medical officials after the discovery of the first four skeletal remains on December 21. The police in an initial reaction said the area of the site had been under LTTE control for well over 15 years.

Last year a similar mass grave was discovered in the Matale District where skeletal remains of at least 154 persons were recovered. It is widely believed that these individuals perished during the 1987-89 period during the JVP insurgency. Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa served as the Army officer commanding the Matale District in 1989.

The Mannar mass grave adds greater pressure on the government as calls for an independent investigation into killings during the armed conflict with the LTTE increase. The TNA-controlled Northern Provincial Council yesterday adopted a resolution to call for UN assistance at forensic excavations at the site.  The resolution was moved by Tamil National Alliance’s woman councillor Ananthi Sasitharan, whose husband Elilan was an LTTE political wing leader and is among those believed to have disappeared during the final battle in 2009.

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