50 bodies found in Sri Lanka mass grave, including children

By Kithsiri Wijesinghe

At least 50 bodies of men, women and children have been unearthed from a  a mass burial site in war torn northern Sri Lanka.

Experts continuing with excavations in Mannar since last May believe that the final count could be much higher.

At least three bodies unearthed from the Cooperative Wholesale Establishment (SATHOSA) premises have been positively identified as those belonging to children.

"After examining the dental structure of the skeletal remains we can clearly identify three children with milk teeth," lead investigator Dr Saminda Rajapaksha told JDS.

Earlier in June, Archaeologist Raj Somadeva confirmed the unearthing of skull bones of children under the age of 12. 

Forty skulls

Investigators confirm that the bodies have not been buried in a formal manner.

"Most of the human remains have been dumped informally on top of each other," said Dr Rajapaksha, who is also the  Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) for Mannar district.

"If they were buried according to routine custom, the practice will be to lay the bodies on their back with heads positioned on one side."

In addition to complete skeletons, at least forty skulls have been unearthed.

"We are in the process of classifying the skeletal remains found in 37 days of excavations. Some skeletons might have parts missing. That doesn't rule out the fact that they belong to one body," said Dr Rajapaksha.

Excavation continues

The JMO added that a rusty circular object resembling a bangle was also found on one forearm.

Allaying earlier fears of investigations grinding to a halt due to lack of funds Dr Rajapaksha said that the excavations will continue "until the last piece of bone is unearthed."

The Mannar SATHOSA mass burial site was first discovered in last May when the state owned Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau (CECB) commenced construction work.☐



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

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