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Jaffna hospital remembers victims of IPKF massacre

The Jaffna Teaching Hospital held a commemoration service in remembrance of the 68 staff and patients who were massacred by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) 31 years ago.

The massacre, committed in 1987, saw IPKF storm the hospital building, throwing grenades and firing indiscriminately at the civilian staff and patients. The building had been shelled by artillery before the raid.

The following morning, staff who tried to surrender were fired upon before further IPKF soldiers stormed the building and ordered ten members of staff out of the building. The bodies of all ten were found later the same day.

Among the 21 doctors, nurses and hospital staff who were massacred were three then leading medical specialists, Dr A Sivapathasuntharam, Dr K  Parimelalahar and Dr K  Ganesharatnan.

A former hospital employee told the BBC his account of the atrocity.

"I could hear gunfire and staff shouting as they were being shot dead,” he said. “I saw the men. They were Sikhs, wearing turbans and Indian army uniforms."

Last year, retired Indian Major General Sheonan Singh who served with the IPKF in Jaffna visited the site of the massacre. There he told the BBC,

"I was unaware of this incident. It seems information about it got suppressed and people (further up in the chain of command) didn't know of it... It is unfortunate but wherever military operations occur, these things happen."