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Friday, June 23, 2006

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Probe on Pesalai church attack

Mannar’s Bishop indicts Navy in letter to Vatican

By Poorna Rodrigo

Acting on local and international reports, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has appointed a top level military committee to probe charges relating to last Saturday’s attack on a church in Pesalai.

The Daily Mirror learns that President Rajapaksa took the decision after Wednesday’s meeting of the National Security Council and said he wanted an immediate report mainly on a complaint by Mannar’s Bishop the Rt. Revd. Rayappu Joseph that Navy personnel were responsible for the attack on the church in which six civilians were killed and at least 47 injured.

The Navy and the LTTE have blamed each other for the attack which came in the aftermath of a sea battle between the Navy and the sea Tigers early on Saturday.

Mannar’s Bishop in a six page letter to the Vatican gave full details on the attack on the Church of Lady of Victories and said he believed the Navy was responsible.

The Bishop complained to the Vatican that civilians were being targeted increasingly, despite both parties reiterating their commitment to the Ceasefire Agreement.

President Rajapaksa told security forces commanders and other top officials at the NSC meeting that justice and human rights should prevail in the country.

The President said he was also appointing a Human Rights Unit for the security forces because of a deteriorating human rights track record in the country and urgent calls by the international community to ensure the rights of the people.

As he did at an emergency NSC meeting on Sunday, the President reiterated that the safety and human rights of civilians of all communities must be protected.


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