Uniformed Sri Lankan police officers pushed back Tamil mourners as they attempted to light candles to mark 25 years since the Navaly Church bombings in Jaffna earlier today.
Crowds gathered a memorial constructed for victims of the bombing were met with a heavy security presence, that included several armed and uniformed Sri Lankan army soldiers.
As Tamils attempted to place candles before the memorial, police officers pushed back mourners, refusing to allow them to be placed. Several attendees were also threatened with arrest, with the officers claiming they were violating coronavirus regulations.
Former Northern Provincial Council member M K Sivajilingam, who was earlier arrested and summoned to court over plans to commemorate the massacre, attempted to speak with the security forces, who eventually agreed to let a group of Christian fathers light lamps. The TNPF’s V Mannivannan was also present at the event.
Earlier this week, Manipay police had filed an injunction at Mallakam Magistrate Court in an attempt to ban the commemoration event from taking place. However, the court refused to do so.
The Navaly Church bombings took place 25 years ago when Sri Lankan air force jets dropped a total of 13 bombs on Tamils as they sheltered at the St Peter's Church and the nearby Kathirgama Murugan Kovil.
The latest incident comes amidst heightened security presence and military crackdown in the Tamil North-East, which has seen dozens of Tamils arrested and several reports of state violence, including the murder of an unarmed man by a Sri Lankan soldier.