Westminster: Cardinal consoles families of slain Sri Lankan aid workers

 Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, has written to the Director of Caritas Jaffna to express his condolences to the families of two humanitarian aid workers who were killed on Monday in a Claymore mine explosion in the north of Sri Lanka. Mr Shanmugaratham Pathmanathan, 55, and Mr Chelvendra Pradeepkumar, 29, worked for the Human Development Centre (HUDEC)-Caritas Jaffna, CAFOD's local partner in the area. Five soldiers were also killed. A shadowy group, the Jaffna People's Army, has since claimed responsibility for the attack, one of the worst since the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) agreed in January 2006 to hold their first direct talks since 2003. Cardinal Cormac 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. In his message to Fr Jeyakumar, Director of Caritas Jaffna, the Cardinal wrote: Dear Fr Jeyakumar It was with great sadness that I learned of the deaths on Monday of Mr Shanmurgaratham Pathmanathan (Paath) and Mr Chelvendra Pradeepkumar (Pradip), staff members of HUDEC who were working on the tsunami reconstruction programme. I understand their vehicle was caught by a landmine and that five soldiers were also killed. I would like to express my sympathy and sincere condolences to the families of both Paath and Pradip as well to those of of the soldiers, and to wish a speedy recovery to all those injured in the attack. When I was visiting Sri Lanka in December a year after the tsunami, I was very moved by the dedication and service of the Caritas aid workers. I know that you and your staff are working in very difficult circumstances in trying to bind and heal the wounds inflicted by conflict and by the tsunami. For HUDEC and its staff to continue their work with vulnerable communities affected by war and natural disaster will be the most fitting testament to the memory of Paath and Pradip, bearing testimony that their deaths were not in vain. I will continue to pray that Sri Lanka's leaders will work energetically for peace with justice for all the people of your beautiful island. May the souls of the departed rest in peace and may HUDEC, families and friends be comforted."

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