May 17, 1998: LTTE assassinates Sri Lankan mayor

On May 17, 1998 the mayor of the northern Sri Lankan city of Jaffna was killed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

JAFFNA, SRI LANKA – Having one family member die at the hands of terrorists is bad enough for the survivors: how about two in two different attacks almost a decade apart?

I am fairly certain in saying that the vast, vast, vast majority of people on Earth have never been witness to a terrorist attack. In person, I mean. Sure, EVERYONE has seen footage of the 9/11 attacks a gazillion times but most were nowhere near New York or Washington when those events took place. We are only ‘witnesses‘ through the medium of the Internet and/or television.

This statement stands to reason as there are actually very few terrorist attacks on any given day and there are somewhere north of 7 billion humans on the planet. Hence, the chances of you being present when something (or someone) goes boom! are slim to nil.

Interestingly, there have been events where an entire population was directly affected. The only most salient to me was the first day of the Battle of the Somme in France in 1916 where the Newfoundland Regiment (Newfoundland was not yet part of Canada) fought at Beaumont-Hamel and took such serious casualties (after a disastrous dash across no-man’s land only 68 men answered roll call the next day) that it is said not a single Newfoundlander did NOT have a personal tie to the massacre.

Getting back to terrorism, if it is exceedingly rare for anyone to be present when an attack comes off, how much rarer is to suffer not once but TWICE by the same group?

On this day in 1998

The mayor of the northern Sri Lankan city of Jaffna was killed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Sarojini Yogeswaran had been elected the mayor of the Jaffna municipal council the previous January in elections opposed by the LTTE (a lot of terrorist groups oppose anything smacking of democracy).

About nine or ten shots had been fired by them. From what we know, there were two gunmen.

Party secretary Ananda Sagari

Here is where it gets even more tragic. Ms. Yogeswaran’s husband, Vettivelu, a former member of Sri Lanka‚Äôs Parliament, had been killed by the same LTTE in 1989 in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital. So, two deaths of politicians almost a decade apart and they were a married couple. What are the odds of that?

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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