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Sri Lanka Army

Defenders of the Nation

Published on - 9/23/2004

Press Release (04/26) Army Headquarters – 23 September 2004 at 15.30 hrs

AMINES ADVISORY GROUP (MAG) CLEARS THE AIR

The Mines Advisory Group (MAG), engaged in de-mining activities in Batticaloa area refutes media claims that dead bodies in the attack on the LTTE camp at Periya Pullumalai on 07th September 2004 were carried to a nearby Army camp on MAG vehicles, or that the de-miners heard Sinhalese language being spoken by fleeing attackers.

MAG also dissociates itself from the Press reports that suggested that MAG made allegations on the Sri Lanka Army's involvement in the attack.

In a detailed letter forwarded by Ms.Abigail Hartley, Programme Manager, MAG Sri Lanka after a brief meeting she has had with the Secretary to Ministry of Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation Mr. M. S Jayasinghe in the company of Ms. Judy Grayson, UNDP Coordinator of the Mine Action, she has further pointed out that the people quoted in the Press as being MAG de-miners are in fact employees of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) and that the MAG only provides technical assistance to the TRO.

The letter further adds:

The version of events reported in the Press does not accurately reflect the incident as reported to MAG. Certainly, as a result of violent threats, de-miners were involved in carrying dead/wounded men away from the area. However, reports that MAG vehicles were used, or that the de-miners heard Sinhalese being spoken, were not made known to MAG by the de-miners.\"

The de-miners were very unfortunate to be caught up in this incident and in order to reduce the risk of this happening again MAG has introduced a Standard operating Procedure whereby de-miner camps will be established as far away as possible from LTTE camps., check points, security blocks, etc.\"

MAG has been working in support of the Government of Sri Lanka\'s mine action programme since March 2002 and enjoys an excellent relationship with the Government of Sri Lanka, including the Ministry of Defence and the Sri Lanka Army. I am concerned that recent reports in the Press regarding a security incident in Periya Pullumalai on 7th September could have a negative impact on this relationship and I am very keen to ensure that this does not happen.\"

Some of the Press reports suggest that MAG made allegations that the Sri Lankan Army may have been involved in the attack. I hope this clarifies MAG\'s position and look forward to continuing good cooperation with the Government of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Army.\"