ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 11 , 2007
Vol. 41 - No 41

Wilpattu tragedy: Bullet-riddled bodies found

By Hiran Priyankara Jayasinghe

The bodies of eight persons, including the Anuradhapura area commander Jayantha Suraweera, were recovered yesterday following a big search operation in the Wilpattu national park.

More than 300 security forces personnel, including Special Forces, were deployed for the search after reports that Lt. Col. Suraweera, other army men, the Wilpattu sanctuary chief, and three trackers had gone missing while they were on an inspection tour of the park.

Vehicles carrying the bodies of Army area commander Jayantha Suraweera and other victims of the Wilpattu attack coming out of the national park yesterday. Pic by Athula Bandara

A senior army officer who visited the scene of the tragedy said the bodies with bullet and cut injuries were found at Kokkaruwila, some 35 kilometres from the main entrance of the park.

The bodies were found scattered while the double cab, in which they travelled, was found abandoned about a kilometre away, with their weapons having been taken away by the attackers.

The other victims were identified as Major P.D.F.A Jayaratne, Corporal Kapila Kumara, Private Suranga, Wilpattu Chief Vasantha Pushpananda and trackers M.D. Witharne, Kelum Jayawardena and Chandana Pradeep Navaratne.

They were on a mission to assess the security situation and look into the possibility of repairing a water tank used by elephants in a bid to prevent elephants entering nearby villages.

The Wilpattu Park has been open to the public despite reports that Tiger terrorists were operating in the area. Villagers and park officials said LTTE cadres were known to be operating in the area.

The park had been earlier closed for some time after seven visitors were killed on May 28 last year when their double cab was blown up in a mine explosion. Thereafter the park was reopened, though the number of visitors drastically dropped.

Wilpattu horror

Four Army personnel including Anuradhapura Area Commander Jayantha Suraweera and four WildLife employees were brutally gunned down by the LTTE at the Wilpattu National Park on Friday.

These pictures show yesterday’s military operation to retrieve the bodies.

Troops discuss the plan to track the bodies of the missing Army and Wild Life officers, who had gone to study the impact of the prevailing dry weather in the Iriyagolla Wewa in the Wilpattu National park.
Security Forces carrying out the search operation


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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.