COLOMBO, Feb. 8, Reuter: More than 60 people were killed in Sri Lanka during the past week as Tamil guerrillas fleeing from advancing government troops launched retaliations raids on villages, officials said.

A government statement said the worst incident occurred yesterday when rebels stormed the village of Arantalawa, 200 km (125 miles) east of Colombo, and killed 28 people, including 10 children.

A local member of parliament, Pathkirige Dayaratne, told Reuters that the victims were hacked to death last night.

He said they “were killed without firing a shot. All the victims had their throats cut.”

The government said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which is spearheading the fight for a separate state in north and east Sri Lanka, had suffered heavy casualties since troops launched their second offensive within a month.

It said that according to intercepted radio messages, LTTE leader Velupillai Prabakaran had ordered his men to kill men, women and children in remote Sinhalese and Moslem villages in eastern districts.

“Prabakaran has given these orders hoping that villagers under attack would retaliate against Tamil civilians, and win world opinion for the Tamil cause”, it said.

Dayaratne said the reported Arantalawa killings were probably in retaliation for a commando assault on a Tamil Tiger headquarters at Kokkadicholai last month in which 21 rebels, 13 policemen and four civilians were killed.

Nine people were killed and 14 wounded in a rebel attack on a Sinhalese village at Manthottham last Tuesda.

The statement said at least 26 rebels and six soldiers were killed in the offensive against rebel strongholds since Friday in northern and eastern areas.

The military push in northern Jaffna, the rebel’s main stronghold, saw the destruction of two arms and ammunition factories and several bunker positions.

Troops clearing the perimeters of government camps in the Jaffna area defused more than 2,000 mines planted by rebels.

The government said rebels were firing at security forces from inside places of worship where they had taken shelter and it appealed to church and temple authorities to help try to remove them.

The government last night banned ultra-light aircraft from flying over any part of the Island and said any seen in the air would be shot down.

A Reuters correspondent who visited Jaffna last month was shown by rebels around a factory where an ultra-light plane was being built for military purposes.

Article extracted from this publication >>  February 20, 1987