COLOMBO, SRI LANKA, AUG. 4 (SATURDAY) -- At least 125 Moslems were shot dead during Friday night prayers in two mosques in eastern Sri Lanka, military sources and Moslem leaders said today. They blamed the attacks on Tamil separatist rebels.
M.H.M. Ashroff, leader of a Sri Lankan Moslem organization, told reporters that the rebels burst into the mosques, in Kathankudy, near the town of Batticaloa, during prayers. They switched off the lights and opened fire with machine guns, he said. More than 100 people were wounded.
"We have recovered 127 bodies up to early this morning. More than 100 others were rushed to hospitals. Some are in critical condition," he said. Another Moslem official, Vasu Farook, said 140 people had been killed and some of the wounded were not expected to survive.
A military official in Colombo said troops had been rushed to the area and were conducting an intensive search. He said the wounded were taken by helicopters to hospitals in Batticaloa, Minneriya and Amparai districts.
About 480 Moslems have now been killed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam since the rebel group launched its latest offensive on June 11, said Ashroff, head of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. He said he had asked the government to provide arms to Moslems threatened by the Tigers.