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Last updated: 17 October, 2008 - Published 11:59 GMT
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Karuna 'seizes' TMVP newspaper
SSP Ranjith Gunasekara
Police say the dispute is resolved but residents fear more clashes
Tension prevailed in Batticaloa as armed members of a militant group have clashed over the ownership of a regional newspaper.

Police spokesman, SSP Ranjith Gunasekara, said there was a dispute between the Karuna faction and the Pillayan faction of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP) over the ownership of the Thamil Alai newspaper.

It initially belonged to Vinayagamurthy Muralitharan (Karuna) but the ownership was taken over by a group led by Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan (Pillayan) after Karuna left Sri Lanka, police said.

Armed members of the Karuna faction have taken over the newspaper office in Govindan road, Battticaloa.

'Under control'

The situation was under control after the security forces intervened, SSP Gunasekara said.

Karuna (L) with President Rajapaksa
Karuna's supporters have seized the Thamil Alai newspaper in Batticaloa

However, as armed members of both factions were seen around TMVP offices in Batticaloa, residents said they feared serious clashes between the factions.

Pillayan is currently the chief minister of the eastern province while Karuna was appointed as a national list MP by the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA).

Meanwhile, a court has issued an interim order against the suspension of Katthankudy Urban Council (UC) by the eastern province chief minister.

Interim order

The CM has ordered the suspension of the UC on 25 September accusing the Katthankudy UC of financial irregularities and not conducting council meetings.

Batticaloa High Court judge, S Paramaraja, said Mr. Chandrakanthan should have first appointed a committee of inquiry with a retired a judge as a head of the panel.

The petition was filed by UC chairman, ULM Mubeen, a member of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC).

Eastern provincial council minister, MLAM Hisbullah, supported the SLMC at the time of the local council elections.

He joined the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) just before the provincial council elections and initially claimed the post of the chief minister.

The court ordered the respondents to file their response on 31 October.

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