- Special Pages
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 yesterday.
Troops stumbled on four 152mm artillery barrels and one 130mm 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 Tiger rebels who were pushed to a small stretch of lagoon where the group’s military leadership was wiped out in 2009.
The spectacular military success ended nearly four decades of fighting by the Tigers for independence, but it also triggered allegations of war crimes.
“Tigers fired these artillery pieces from areas where civilians were sheltering in the final stages of the war,” Wanigasooriya said.
Rights groups blamed Tigers for using civilians as a human shield while government forces were accused of shelling civilian areas declared a no-fire zone.