Five Tamil students injured in attack in northern Sri Lanka

Soldiers attacked a group of students in Sri Lanka 's troubled northern peninsula Friday after they defied orders and hoisted a Tamil Tiger rebel flag at their institute, students said. Five students were injured when the army entered the Advanced Technological Institute in Jaffna, assaulted students and smashed doors and windows, said S. Suganthan, the student union president.

A Norway-brokered cease-fire, signed by the government and Tamil Tiger rebels in 2002, bars the hoisting of rebel flags in government-controlled areas. Jaffna is 300 kilometers (185 miles) north of the capital, Colombo .

The students raised the rebel flag at the start of a monthlong memorial for Kanapathipillai Poopathy, who died while fasting in 1988 to protest the presence of Indian troops who were sent to Sri Lanka on a peacekeeping mission the previous year, but ended up fighting the Tamil Tigers. India lost 1,200 soldiers before withdrawing in 1990.

Military spokesman Brig. Sudhir Samarasinghe said that the military and the European cease-fire monitors had objected to the flag-raising on Thursday, and had warned the students not to repeat it. However, he did not comment on the alleged attack on Friday, saying he did not have information.

Helen Olafsdottir, spokeswoman for the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission a group of European cease-fire monitors said her members had asked the students not to hoist the flag because it violated the cease-fire. Subsequently, the army entered the premises and brought the flag down, she said. "However, I have no information to say that there were any physical engagement, Olafsdottir added, reports the AP.


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