47 Tamils Slain in 2 Sri Lanka Raids
At least 47 members of the Tamil minority were reported killed Friday by men in army uniforms who burned down a village and by an air force helicopter gunship that blasted three passenger vans.
More than 4,000 people have been slain in the three-year-old battle between the Sinhalese-dominated government and Tamils who want a separate nation in the northern part of this island of tea and spices formerly named Ceylon.
Residents of the Trincomalee area said the uniformed men stormed the village of Ichchilampatti, 22 miles south of the eastern naval port, slaughtered 21 Tamils and set most of the houses ablaze.
Military officials acknowledged that the attackers wore uniforms, but said it had not been determined whether they were soldiers.
At Manner in the heart of Tamil country on the northwestern coast, residents and authorities said the helicopter’s guns destroyed three vans and killed at least 26 Tamils.
Albert Fernando, a spokesman for the National Security Ministry, said the passengers were Tamil rebels who fired at the gunship. Residents of Manner reached by telephone said the vans normally were used for public transportation.