|Suicide bomb attack at Muttur
EU observers voice concern
A police officer was also killed and five wounded in the blast, the first suicide attack on a political rally outside Colombo.
"We are very concerned," the EUEOMs spokesman Peter Cross said noting that the incident was undoubtedly the worst so far in the run up to the October 10 general election.
John Cushnahan, the EUEOMs Chief Observer yesterday visited Trincomalee where he met the Chief Returning Officer and the Assistant Commissioner of Elections. Government officials and the EUEOMs observers stationed in the Trincomalee District briefed Cushnahan on the devastating LTTE terrorist attack at Muttur on the previous day.
"The EU mission wishes to express its regret at the atrocity perpetrated at Muttur," Cross told The Island after contacting Cushnahan in Trincomalee.
Gunasena Thenabadu, SSP, Trincomalee and Colonel Piyal Abeysekara, Brigade Commander, Trincomalee, yesterday said that the LTTE carried out the attack which killed Baithulla, an ex-police intelligence officer who had been responsible for a series of successful anti - LTTE operations in the district. Baithulla had been the head of the Counter Subversive Unit [CSU] of the Trincomalee Police Division.
An LTTE suicide cadre on November 25, 1996 made an abortive attempt on Baithullas life.
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence [CMEV] and the PAFFREL engaged in monitoring the general election agreed that the LTTE was responsible for the attack that raised the number of people killed in polls related violence to over 30.
Quoting the CMEVs representative at Muttur, the Centre yesterday said that a male suicide bomber carried out the attack when Baithulla was about to get in to a three wheeler after addressing a political rally at the Muttur Cultural Centre.
Rear Admiral Terrence Sundaram, Commander, Eastern Naval Area, yesterday said that the wounded were ferried in navy boats across the bay to Trincomalee.
"It was the fastest route from Muttur to Trincomalee," Sundaram, the senior most security forces officer in the East said.
Baithulla was the second PA candidate killed by the LTTE since September 4, the day nominations ended. Ex - Batticaloa Mayor Cheliyan Perinpanayagam contesting the Batticaloa District on the PA ticket was shot dead on September 10 morning at the Kalmunai residence of Sathasivam Manoharan Pillai. Pillai, who contested the last general election on the PA ticket too was killed.
A senior SLMC official said that Deputy Minister Hisbullah escaped two LTTE attacks last Saturday and Monday. He accused the LTTE of carrying out a systematic campaign against the party. He pointed out the ongoing LTTE campaign was aimed at upsetting the SLMC - PA election campaign particularly in the northern and the eastern districts.
With the assassination of Baithulla, the number of PA candidates contesting the October 10 general election killed has risen to four. Of them, M. H. M. Ashraff and S. Kadirgamathamby died on September 16 when the SLAFs Mi-17 helicopter carrying them crashed onto Urakanda in the Kegalle District. All four candidates were from the east.
Political and military officials said that the ongoing LTTEs campaign of death and destruction clearly indicates their determination to disrupt the election.
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