Sri Lanka storm exposes Tigers’ heavy weaponry

Thursday, 1 November 2012 01:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

AFP: COLOMBO:  A storm surge in Sri Lanka’s northeast has exposed buried artillery guns of Tamil Tiger rebels in a region where the final battles of the country’s 37-year conflict were fought, the army said Wednesday.

Troops stumbled on four 152mm artillery barrels and one 130 mm piece believed to have been used by Tiger guerrillas during their last stand in the district of Mullaittivu, army spokesman Ruwan Wanigasooriya said.

“They had buried it along the coast and the cache was exposed due to a storm surge in the area,” Wanigasooriya said. “We knew that the terrorists used heavy weapons, but this is physical evidence of their big artillery guns.”

Government forces crushed Tamil Tiger rebels who were pushed to a small stretch of lagoon where the group’s military leadership was wiped out in May 2009.

The spectacular military success ended nearly four decades of fighting by the Tigers who had been campaigning for independence, but it also triggered allegations of war crimes, which government forces have denied.

“Tigers fired these artillery pieces from areas where the civilians were sheltering in the final stages of the war,” Wanigasooriya said.

Rights groups blamed the Tigers for using civilians as a human shield while government forces were accused of shelling civilian areas declared a no-fire zone during the final battles.

In May, security forces said they unearthed 6,250 kilos (13,750 pounds) of C-4 type plastic explosives buried in a jungle area in Mullaittivu.

The Tigers, who during the height of their power controlled nearly a third of Sri Lanka’s territory, were known for their trademark suicide bombings, which claimed high profile targets, including a president in May 1993.