PLOTE’s N Manickathasan accused TELO of aiding the LTTE to assassinate PLOTE leaders. TELO has denied the allegation. Local people say that the fighting is over taxes by both groups on consumer goods in Vavuniya. These groups earn large amounts of money on the illegal taxes, particularly the sale of coconuts.
While PLOTE and TELO quarrelled over coconuts and coconut oil, further north in the Vanni, fighting between the Sri Lankan security forces and the LTTE continued. The two sides exchanged mortar and artillery fire in February.
Reports say that there is an acute shortage of medicines in all hospitals in the Vanni, including at Akkarayankulam, Mallavi and Puthukudyiruppu. Over 22,000 people were treated in Mullaitivu hospitals in January. Mullaitivu District health authorities have warned of a typhoid epidemic. Many people suffer from malaria following recent rains. Reports say sufficient malathion insecticide has not reached the Vanni and there is a lack of personnel for malaria prevention work.
Following his visit to the north, Buddhist monk Vajira Nayake Thera says families in the Vanni receive only one bottle of kerosene a month for lighting, cooking, studies and other purposes. The plight of school children is pathetic without school books and educational materials. Thousands of families have no soap and it is difficult to obtain even an aspirin. The Thera says that hundreds of people are becoming blind without specialists to carry out cataract operations.