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Friday, December 9, 2016
Sri Lankan aid workers killed in mine attack
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 CAFOD is expressing its sadness over the death of two Sri Lankan humanitarian aid workers, killed yesterday in a mine explosion. Mr Shanmugaratham Pathmanathan, 55, and Mr Chelvendra Pradeepkumar, 29, worked for the Human Development Centre (HUDEC)-Caritas Jaffna, AFOD's local partner in the north of Sri Lanka. The two were travelling by road from Kilinochchi when they passed a Sri Lanka Army truck travelling in the opposite direction. A claymore mine attached to a bicycle was detonated, killing five soldiers in the army vehicle and also the two aid workers, said Caritas Jaffna. Two other Caritas staff were also injured in the attack. Fr Jeyakumar, Director of Caritas Jaffna said: "We are broken hearted for the families of Mr Pathmanathan and Mr Pradeepkumar. Mr Pathmanathan had three young children who will now grow up without their father. Mr Pradeepkumar was engaged and planning to visit his fiancée in Canada in a few weeks." Mr Pathmanathan worked with the Children's Unit and Mr Pradeepkumar worked collecting data, both for the tsunami reconstruction programme, said Caritas Jaffna. Fr Jeyakumar said: "It is a very tragic thing that yet more civilians have been killed in the crossfire of the conflict in Sri Lanka. Their deaths show that aid workers in Sri Lanka are very vulnerable. We are all very frightened about the situation here." CAFOD's Director Chris Bain said: "We send our deepest condolences to the families of Pathmanathan and Pradeepkumar and the staff of Caritas Jaffna. Their deaths underline the need for an end to the violence in Sri Lanka and greater support from all sides for the peace process. We also hope for a speedy recovery for those injured in the attack." Police do not know who was behind the attack. An army spokesperson blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who have been fighting for over two decades for a separate Tamil homeland. However, an LTTE spokesperson condemned the attack. The conflict has killed more than 64,000 people on both sides, and devastated a country that was also hit hard by the 2004 tsunami. The attack was one of the worst since the two sides agreed in January 2006 to hold their first direct talks since 2003. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor travelled with CAFOD to Sri Lanka in December for the first anniversary of the Tsunami. During the trip, he spoke with religious and political leaders on bringing peace to Sri Lanka.
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