Skeletal remains of at least 50 people have been dug out from a mass grave discovered in northeastern Sri Lanka, amid speculation that the remains were of Tamil civilians who had disappeared during the war with the LTTE. Police spokesman and Senior Superintendent Ajith Rohana said further digging will be continued with the deployment of a team from the crime investigation department to assist in investigations. Three more skulls were found today, Rohana said. With this, the total skeletal remains discovered stand at 50. A team of forensic experts led by Judicial Medical Officer Dhananjaya Waidyaratne earlier stated that bodies had been buried in several layers at the site. The state water entity's workers had stumbled upon the grave as they dug the ground to lay water supply connections late December last year in Thirukatheeswaram area in Mannar district. The main Tamil party TNA-controlled Northern Provincial Council yesterday adopted a resolution to call for UN assistance at forensic excavations at the site. The Tamil groups believe that the remains were those of the Tamil civilians who had disappeared during the three-decade conflict. The resolution was moved by Tamil National Alliance's woman councillor Ananthy Saseetharan, whose husband Elilan was an LTTE political wing leader and is among those believed to have disappeared during the final battle in 2009. This was the first discovery of a mass grave in the former conflict zone since the war ended.
Digging of the site took place in the presence of magisterial and judicial medical officials after the discovery of the first four skeletal remains on December 21. The police in an initial reaction said the area of the site had been under LTTE control for well over 15 years. Since the end of the war, Sri Lanka has been facing international accusations of rights abuses. Sri Lanka denies that its troops committed any war crimes whilst combating the LTTE. It has resisted calls to probe claims that over 40,000 ethnic minority Tamils were killed by the military during the final phase of the civil war that ended in 2009. The UN Human Rights Council has passed two rights resolutions against Sri Lanka and a third one is expected in March.