November 30, 1984: Women and children killed in Sri Lankan Massacre

On November 30, 1984 the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam entered two villages in NE Sri Lanka and massacred a total of 82 people, including women and children.

MULLAITIVU, SRI LANKA – Farming is a back-breaking profession at the best of times: terrorist attacks just make it worse.

Do you ever spare a moment for farmers? It is a heavily labour-intensive profession with long hours and so many challenges: weather events, insect infestations, crop diseases, price fluctuations for your crops…the list of what can go wrong is indeed a long one. But we need to recognise that they do so much to keep us fed.

In some areas of the world – Nigeria is a great example – farmers compete, sometimes violently, with so-called herders, those who keep animals. The two groups see each others as enemies, believing that THEIR use of the finite use of the available fields is superior. So the two kill each other on far too many occasions.

Don’t have a cow man! My beasts need to eat! (Photo: Carsten ten Brink on flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Alas, we can also add terrorism to the list of hardships.

On this day in 1984

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres entered two villages in NE Sri Lanka and massacred a total of 82 people, including women and children. Prior to the killings Sinhalese convicts had been settled in the Kent and Dollar farms after the Tamil civilians living there were evicted by the Sri Lankan Army.

At dawn on Friday my wife woke me up saying she heard the report of a gunshot. She took our two children and ran out of the house. After some minutes I saw a group of armed people running. They shot at her and she was hit on the leg, fell down. I took the two children and ran towards the shed…The Tigers came there and set fire to the shed and asked us to come out. My clothes had caught fire but I took the two children and started running out towards the cattle shed and hid there. Later, I heard that the terrorists had killed my wife and my elder son.


In the immediate aftermath, Sri Lankan police and troops conducted a cordon and search operation and killed 30 militants. Still, the question remains: why would the LTTE kill civilians?

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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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