Sri Lanka: Ten bodies found in Tamil area mass grave

By Kithsiri Wijesinghe

Skeletal remains of at least ten humans have been recovered from the most recently discovered mass grave in the war torn Tamil region of northern Sri Lanka.

Forensic and archaeology experts excavating the grave site in Mannar for over two weeks fear that more human bodies could be unearthed in future.

“We have found skeletal remains of more than ten people so far,” archaeologist Raj Somadeva told JDS on the 13th day of excavations.

“At present we are recording the findings and keeping them in the custody of courts. We should find more in the coming days.”


Human remains were first found on 28 May by construction workers digging the land by the Mannar – Medawachchiya A14 highway to expand a state owned Cooperative Wholesale Establishment (SATHOSA) store complex.

Following the discovery, Mannar district judge Gratien Alex Rajah ordered the excavations.

'Independent probe'

The forensic expert leading the SATHOSA mass grave investigation, Dr. Saminda Rajapaksha, told JDS that some skeletal remains were damaged by digging with heavy equipment.

So far, 17 truckloads of sandy soil removed from the site and later recovered, had been found to contain human bone parts.

The Mannar bishop who visited the site Dr. Fidelis Lionel Emmanuel Fernando, had called for an independent probe to identity of the bodies and determine the cause of death.

Lawyers representing hundreds of relatives of disappeared suspect that the remains belong to Tamils who have been abducted, tortured and killed by state security forces.

Professor Somadeva says that it is too early to determine the cause of death.

'We are observing' - OMP

However, the archeologist believes that investigators would be able to determine whether the SATHOSA mass grave is a crime scene in the coming days.

The head of the government appointed Office for the Missing Persons (OMP) Saliya Peiris meeting relatives of disappeared in the eastern Trincomalee district announced that his office is closely observing the excavations as an interested party.

In December 2013, another mass grave containing at least 82 bodies was found from Thiruketheeswaram, in the same area.☐



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

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