Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Omanthai entry/exit point closed as ICRC withdraws following LTTE fire

The Omanthai entry/exit point along the A-9 closed around 4.15 this evening (22) with the withdrawal of the ICRC following LTTE fire against a civil van that attempted to proceed towards Vavuniya ignoring Tiger orders to refrain from doing so.

The ICRC hut is situated in the no-man's land between the Security Forces and the LTTE road blocks in Omanthai, Vavuniya along the A-9 Kandy -Jaffna main road. Rounds from the LTTE fire targeting the civil van had fallen in the vicinity of the ICRC compound threatening the safety of ICRC representatives.

The Omanthai road block was re-opened yesterday (21) following written security guarantees by the Security Forces and the LTTE to the ICRC.

According to latest information reaching MCNS, the LTTE had stopped a van from Kilinochchi trying to proceed towards cleared areas in Vavuniya at the Tiger road block at Omanthai around 8.30 a.m. this morning (22). Two Tamil passengers aged 23 and 24 had been kept waiting at the LTTE road block at Omanthai till 3.55 p.m. in the evening. Then they were told to head back to Kilinochchi as the Tigers would not permit them to proceed towards Vavuniya.

The two Tamil youth who were angered by the harassment of the Tigers had forcibly driven the van towards the Omanthai Army entry/exit point ignoring LTTE orders no to do so. Infuriated LTTE cadres opened fire at the van threatening the presence of the ICRC members ahead of the LTTE entry/exit point in the no-mans land.

Following the incident ICRC members withdrew from the area and arrived in cleared areas through the Omanthai Army entry /exit point around 4.15 p.m. today (22).

The Omanthai entry/exit point is temporarily closed due the withdrawal of the ICRC.