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Eastern armed Muslim groups surrender weapons

[TamilNet, Sunday, 5 July 2009 16:10 No Comment]

Eastern Muslim armed groups Saturday afternoon initially handed over dozens of automatic weapons including seventeen T 56 rifles to the police in response to the amnesty period that ended on July 4 afternoon 3 p.m.. The event took place in Kaathaankudi Grand Mosque in the presence of the Eastern Deputy Inspector General of Police Edison Gunatilake and Provincial Minister M. L. A. M.Hisbullah.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr.Hisbullah claimed that the then President late Ranasinghe Premadasa nineteen years ago in 1990 after the Kaathaankudi Mosque massacre gave a consignment of arms to Muslim youths to safeguard Muslims from the LTTE.

“The handing over of arms to Muslim youths then took place in Kaathaankudi Grand Mosque. Muslim youths surrender their weapons to the police, nineteen years later, today from the same mosque” Mr. Hisbullah said.

He added that he had confidence on President Mahinda Rajapakse that he would safeguard the Muslim community.

More weapons were to be handed over to police later in the evening the same day.

The amnesty period was given to armed Muslim groups by the law enforcement authority after state intelligence services identified 18 Muslim militant leaders who are wanted for various crimes.

“We will grant an amnesty to those who surrender their weapons in Kaaththaankudi. We have the names of those involved in crimes such as extortion, abductions and killings. We also have information that they are linked to the underworld. Their foreign connection is also being investigated. We are determined to disarm these people and restore law and order. All members of the militant groups have been warned to hand over their weapons or face tough action,” DIG Edison Gunatilake said.

Meanwhile, the police and the army in the Eastern Province have been hunting for three main Muslim militant leaders identified as Police Faiz, Moothoor Nizam and Ruhul Haq. They were believed to be instrumental in recruiting Muslim youths in the east, police sources said.

As of now, seven militants have been nabbed and large caches of arms and explosives recovered in an operation conducted by special teams from the Kaaththaankudi and Ea’raavoor police stations.

In one such raid on a Jihad safe house, police arrested two suspects and recovered seven T-56 assault rifles, SMG weapons, anti-personnel mines, claymore mines, detonators and high frequency communication sets, police sources added.

The following are mong the inventory of weapons handed over Saturday are:

16 T 56 assault rifles, one T 81 sub machine gun, four 303 rifles, two sub machine guns, one shot gun, one 9 mm pistol, 16 hand grenades and a large cache of ammunition.

DIG Gunatilake said intelligence reports reveal that Jihadist militants possess around 250 T 56 assault rifles, a fraction of which had been handed over by the time the dead line expired.

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