CLOMBO, Feb. 2, Reuter: The Sri Lankan government, denying accusations that security forces killed more than 200 civilians in an anti-guerrilla operation, is investigation reported links between an American working in eastern province and Tamil rebels, authoritative sources said today.

A senior security official told reporters in the eastern district of Batticaloa that the security authorities had recommended to the government the deportation of Bruce Cyer, an American who is a consultant at a prawn culture farm there.

Victor Santiapillai, Managing Director of Serendib Sea Foods, which runs the farm, said security forces shot dead 22 employees of the farm during an operation against the rebels in Kokkadicholai, 10 km (six miles) southwest of Batticaloa last Wednesday. He said 12 more were missing, presumed dead,

A ‘spokesman for the Batticaloa Citizens Committee said at least 200 civilians were reported to have been killed.

A high military official in the Batticaloa district dismissed the accusation as a fabrication.

He said in a telephone interview that the praw farm was a cover for Tamil guerrillas and that 13 people killed there were all “terrorists”.

Government spokesman Tilak Ratnakara denied that security forces had massacred civilians during the operation. He said 23 Tamil guerrillas, 13 security men and four civilians had been killed.

Batticaloa residents said most of the 20,000 inhabitants of the area had fled during the operation. The government rushed food and medical supplies to about 4,000 families who remained behind. The people stood in a long queue for the food, which was distributed by commandos in battle dress.

The guerrillas are fighting government troops in the north and east of the island to set up an independent homeland for minority Tamils.

Nearly 5.000 people have been killed in the conflict since widespread ethnic violence flared on the island in July. 1983. “

Article extracted from this publication >>  February 6, 1987