By BosNewsLife News Center
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA (BosNewsLife) -- Tensions remained high in the Sri Lankan city of Jaffna Wednesday, January 17, after a pastor was shot dead by government security forces, triggering fears of more ethnic and religious clashes in the volatile region, local Christians and investigators said.
38-year old Nallathamby Gnanaseelan, who leads the Tamil Mission Church in Jaffna, was reportedly shot and killed January 13 by Sri Lankan security forces in Chapel Street after he had taken his wife and daughter to hospital.
In a statement, the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) said he was shot in the stomach and then in the head. His Bible, bag, identity card and motorcycle were apparently taken away and he was left alone on the road.
Sri Lankan security forces reportedly claimed he had been carrying explosives, and then said he was shot because "he failed to stop" when challenged.
Advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said the attack came amid "a dramatic upsurge in violence in Sri Lanka, particularly in Jaffna, as the conflict between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Government has escalated.â€
The NCEASL has reportedly said that extrajudicial killings, abductions and disappearances have been widespread, and "the civilian population has been facing a severe shortage of food and medicine, enduring immense hardship and suffering."
The group claimed that, "Thousands of people are arbitrarily arrested, tortured or ill-treated â€¦ We call upon the international community to raise their voices and prevent the massacre of the innocents in this country."
Sri Lankan Christians and human rights groups have also urged the authorities to establish a United Nations human rights monitoring mission in Sri Lanka. CSW said it was also concerned that violence against Christians will be encouraged as the Sri Lankan Parliament is considering a controversial anti-conversion law.
"While Rev. Gnanaseelanâ€™s murder may not have been primarily motivated by religion, it will only increase the tension for Sri Lankaâ€™s religious minorities,â€ said CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas in a statement to BosNewsLife. "We urge all sides to the conflict, including the Sri Lankan Government, the LTTE and paramilitary forces, to cease the violations of human rights, and we urge the international community to take action to bring the escalating conflict in Sri Lanka to an end."
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