The skeletons of at least 21 children have been recovered from a mass grave in Mannar, as excavations continue at what is now reportedly the largest mass grave to have been found on the island.
The Independent spoke to forensic archaeologist Professor Raj Somadeva, who confirmed the bodies of the children were part of 276 skeletons that had been excavated so far.
“We have excavated only 70 per cent of the gravesite, so the body count is bound to be much higher,” Professor Somadeva told The Independent.
The findings have raised fresh concerns over the fate of forcibly disappeared Tamils, with locals fearing their loved ones have been killed and buried at the site.
One such woman, 67-year-old P Nagamma, who is searching for her 18-year-old son believes he may be buried at the Mannar mass grave.
He was arrested by the Sri Lankan military in the early ‘90s.
“He had just gone out to meet a friend and eyewitnesses told me that some unknown men took him away near the site where they found the grave,” Ms Nagamma said. “I have been waiting for him for 27 years, somehow hoping he’ll be alive somewhere. But now I think he’s lying in that grave.”
Families of the disappeared in Mannar have now filed affidavits stating that their loved ones were taken by the Sri Lankan military and were among the victims lying in the mass grave.
Sandrapradasham Niranchan, a lawyer for the families of the disappeared told The Independent, “there are children in that mass grave. And we are certain there are more of these gravesites around the country where the disappeared Tamils have been buried.”
See more from The Independent here.