The Government Friday ordered an investigation of reports that soldiers went on a rampage and killed scores of villagers in the northern Jaffna district in reprisal for an ambush by Tamil separatists.

Tamil guerrillas seeking a separate state in the north have stepped up their attacks on security force personnel since April, killing 35 in the past two weeks alone.

On Friday, an estimated 100 Tamil rebels used mortar and rocket fire to level a police station on Mannar Island on the northwest coast, killing at least five officers, authorities said. Police said two more policemen were feared abducted and seven others were missing.

Early reports suggested that a group called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was responsible.

Regarding the reported rampage, a Tamil leader in Colombo, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said a colleague in Jaffna told him that “‘70 people, maybe more’’ had been killed by troops at Velvettiturai near Jaffna.

He said his informant had not witnessed the purported killings, but had heard from witnesses in the area.

A government spokesman in Jaffna, who also spoke on the condition he was not identified. Said. “Various people have given different figures of the numbers dead. We do know there was a shootout when the army was attacked and some of the attackers died with their guns in their hands.”

The United News of India reported in New Delhi, India, that more than 75 Tamils were killed Thursday in the Velvettiturai area.

UNI quoted separate telegrams sent to President Junius. R. Jayewardene of Sri Lanka by officials of the Tamil Liberation Front and the Velvettiturai citizens’ committee which named the five villages as sites of rampages.

UNI’s Colombo based Indian correspondent said the killings were in reprisal for a land mine attack on an army convoy in Velvettiturai on Wednesday.

The government said Thursday one soldier was killed and four were wounded in the blast, and nine rebels were killed in a shootout which followed.

The Information Ministry said three soldiers, including an army major, and 17 guerrillas were killed Thursday in the north in skirmishes.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 17, 1985