COLOMBO, Sept 26, Reuter: Suspected People’s Liberation Front gunmen killed a Sri Lankan: Cabinet Minister on Monday hours after President Junius Jayewardene said police had been ordered to destroy the Marxist Rebel Group.

Police said three gunmen ambushed rehabilitation and reconstruction Minister Lionel Jayatilleke (EDS: Correct) as he was on his way to attend a meeting in a Buddhist Temple in Kuliyapitiya, 60 km (40 miles) north of the Indian Ocean Island’s capital Colombo.

The 64 year old Minister was shot in the face and died in the hospital. His security guard and driver were seriously injured

Police said they believed the gunmen were members of the front which has been blamed for more than 400 killings in just over a year,

The front, most of whose members are from the Sinhalese majority, is opposed to an India Sri Lanka pact aimed at ending a separatist revolt by minority Tamils.

Most of the Front’s victims were members of the ruling united national party (UNP) and some opposition parties which support the pact, signed in July last year by Jayewardene and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Police blamed the front for seven other killings on Monday, with victims described as members or supporters of the UNP, in southern Sri Lankan.

Jayewardene, addressing a UNP meeting hours before the Minister’s death, said the Government had no choice but to match the front’s violence.

“So we have given orders to the police to destroy the enemy,” he said.

Jayatilleke was the first Cabinet Minister to die in the front campaign against the controversial pact which the Marxists see as a sellout to the Tamils.

The Rebels also oppose the presence of more than 50,000 Indian troops sent to Sri Lanka to enforce the pact.

Appointed Rehabilitation Minister in 1986, Jayatilleke supervised the resettlement of thousands of Tamils, Sinhalese and Moslems made homeless by ethnic violence.

Military sources meanwhile said Indian Troops had resumed ‘Operations against Tamil rebels after a 10 day unilateral ceasefires.

They said Indian Forces destroyed a guerrilla hideout and arrested nine rebels.

Indian military officials said the ceasefire was not extended because members of the main rebel group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, had not agreed to put down their arms.


Article extracted from this publication >> September 30, 1988