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 Post subject: Murder of Brigadier Susantha Mendis - 11 Sep 1998
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 27, 2006 4:19 am 
Murder of Brigadier Susantha Mendis - 11 Sep 1998
Jaffna blast kills 5, injures mayor

Nirupama Subramaniam
Copyright © Indian Express

COLOMBO, SEPT 11: The LTTE set off a devastating explosion in the municipal office in Jaffna today, killing 12 people including Mayor Pon Sivapalan and two top army and police officials, and injuring many.
Agencies reported that over 30 people were feared killed.

Sivapalan, who was sworn in two months ago after the assassination of his predecessor Sarojini Yogeswaran, was critically injured in the blast. He died in Jaffna hospital later, the defence ministry said in a release hours after the event.

What caused the blast, for which the defence ministry held the LTTE responsible, was not known. Tamil sources said the use of a suicide bomber could not be ruled out. Military officials believe that it was either a parcel bomb or a claymore mine planted in the office building that exploded.

Eyewitnesses said the loud explosion brought down the roof of the Mayor's office, which functioned from a Kalyanamandapam close to the famous Nallur temple. They said there could be more bodies under thedebris.

Brig Susantha Mendis, commander for Jaffna, senior superintendent of police Chandra Perera, a captain, and four police officials were among the dead. The others were civilian officials including S Pathamanathan, commissioner for rehabilitation of Jaffna municipality, and architect Mallika Rajaratnam.

The ministry release did not give the number of injured but sources put it at 18, including two unidentified foreign nationals employed by a non-governmental organisation. The mayor was discussing traffic arrangements for the city with the officials when the explosion went off minutes before noon.

The Jaffna municipal council began functioning earlier this year after 15 years, following local government elections in the northern peninsula in January which were held despite opposition from the LTTE.

The Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) won nine of the 23 seats in the municipality but Sarojini Yogeswaran, who was sworn in as mayor, was shot dead by the LTTE in May. Despite the obvious securityconcerns, the TULF nominated Sivapalan to succeed her.

Brig Mendis was one of the senior-most officers in the Sri Lanka Army. He was posted to Jaffna as town commander in 1996. He had won praise for his sensitive handling of the problems faced by Tamil civilians in his area. It was under him that several military checkposts, regarded by Tamils as symbols of Sinhalese oppression, were dismantled and a degree of normalcy restored to the army administered town.

Mendis is the third senior army officer to be killed by the LTTE in Jaffna after the military captured the former rebel bastion in early 1996. Brig Ananda Hamangoda was killed when the rebels set off an explosion in Jaffna during a minister's visit in July 1996, while another senior Brigadier, Larry Wijeratne, widely regarded by Tamils as the army's human face, was killed by a suicide bomber at Point Pedro in May this year.


Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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