COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has begun an investigation into the 1987 massacre of Buddhist monks by the Tamil separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which attacked a bus and killed 31 people, the country's Supreme Court here was told on Tuesday.
The Attorney General's counsel told the apex court that a survivor, Buddhist monk Andaulpotha Buddhasara, has given a statement on the attack. The LTTE, then fighting for a separate homeland for the minority Tamils in the north and east provinces, carried out the attack on June 2, 1987 at Aranthalawa in the eastern Ampara district.
Some 33 monks and three civilians were travelling in a bus on the monthly Buddhist holy day when the bus was waylaid by the LTTE, who randomly opened fire, killing at least 31 monks. No one was arrested and there were no legal proceedings as in the case of many attacks carried out by the LTTE.
It was then reported as a reprisal killing by the LTTE to provoke the Sinhala majority and came two years after they had similarly opened fire at one of the holiest Buddhist shrines, the Sri Maha Bodhi in the north central town of Anuradhapura.
The three-member Supreme Court bench would soon have the investigation report following a fundamental rights petition filed by Buddhasara, the state Attorney told the court. The petitioner had cited as respondents, the then deputy leader of the LTTE Karuna, who later became a renegade and joined the government.
He even entered the national Parliament and became a deputy minister between 2010 and 2015.
The LTTE ran a military campaign for a separate Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern provinces of the island nation for nearly 30 years before its collapse in 2009 after the Sri Lankan Army killed its supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.
According to the Lankan government figures, over 20,000 people are missing due to various conflicts including the three-decade brutal war with Lankan Tamils in the north and east which claimed at least 100,000 lives.
International rights groups claim at least 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed in the final stages of the war, but the Sri Lankan government has disputed the figures.