230 skeletons found in Sri Lanka’s largest mass grave

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Colombo, Nov 22 (IANS) Over 230 skeletons have been found in a mass grave discovered earlier this year in Sri Lanka’s Mannar town that has turned out to be the country’s biggest such site.

A court has ordered detailed excavations at the site – a former co-operative depot near the main bus terminus – after human remains were found by workers digging foundations for a new building in August, reports the BBC.

It is still not clear who the victims were or how they died.

“We have excavated more than 230 skeletons so far,” professor Raj Somadeva, a forensic archaeologist from the University of Kelaniya near Colombo who is leading the team at the site, told the BBC on Thursday.

“According to my experience this is the largest mass grave ever excavated.”

He said that apart from the human remains, the archaeologists had also found porcelain, ceramic and metal objects, in addition to some jewellery worn by the victims.

“The bones are scattered and (it’s) very difficult to trace the stature of the bodies,” Somadeva said, adding “some bones were missing… It’s chaotic”.

The town of Mannar is dominated by ethnic minority Tamils and community leaders says hundreds of people from the region went missing during the decades-long conflict between Sri Lankan security forces and Tamil Tiger rebels.

While Mannar remained mostly under army control during the civil war, Tamil Tiger rebels dominated its surrounding areas and many other parts of the district.

The military captured the entire district after ferocious battles which ended almost 10 years ago.

A number of mass graves have been unearthed in Sri Lanka’s former war zone since the conflict ended.

The remains of 96 people were discovered in 2014 at a site in another part of Mannar – adjacent to Thiruketheeswaram, a prominent Hindu temple.

–IANS

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