Rev.Fr. Xavier Karunaratnam

Rev.Fr.Mariyampillai Xavier Karunaratnam Known widely as “ Kili Father ” was Killed in a Landmine Explosion at Ambaikulam between Vavunikulam and Vannivilaankulam in the Wanni five years ago on April 20th 2008.

Claymore Kills “ Kili Father ” M.X. Karunaratnam at Ambaikulam


One more name was added last Sunday to Sri Lanka‘s growing list of Tamil Christian clergymen killed in the on going ethnic conflict. The latest victim was the Catholic priest Rev.Fr Mariampillai Xavier Karunaratnam popularly known as “ Kilifather ”. He was killed in a claymore mine explosion on April 20th.

Fr. Karunaratnam had in recent times become well-known as a human rights activist. He was one of the founders of an organization known as the North-East secretariat on Human Rights (NESOHR) and was its chairperson at the time of his death. The NESOHR has focussed on the human rights violations perpetrated on Tamil civilians by members of the armed forces, Police, para-military outfits and state sanctioned assassination squads. The NESOHR also records incidents of artillery shelling and aerial bombardment by the security forces and documents he quantum of injuries,deaths, destruction and displacement caused.

While being the livewire of the NESOHR Fr. Karunaratnam had also been running a meditation and counselling center in the Vavunikulam area.This center has been providing counselling and psychological care to numerous Tamil civilians affected by the war.


Kilifather as he is popularly known was attached to the our Lady of Good Health (Aarokkiyamaathaa) Church at the agrarian village of Vavunikulam.

On Sunday April 20th the 57 year old Catholic clergyman had gone to Maankulam to help conduct the morning mass. Thereafter he proceeded to Mallaavi to attend a special memorial meeting . The meeting was to commemorate former Tamil National Alliance MP Kittinan Sivanesan on the 45th day after his death.Sivanesan was killed in a claymore mine explosion in the Mannankulam area . The specialist assassination unit of the armed forces known as Long range reconnaissance patrol (LRRP) was responsible for Sivanesan‘s killing.

Officially the army denied both the killing and existence of the LRRP then. Now there has been another victim. Fr. Karunaratnam‘s white double cab had developed engine trouble and broken down at Vannivilaankulam. It was then tied to another vehicle with a thick rope and towed along.

Fr. Karunaratnam sat in the driving seat of the double cab with his hands on the steering vehicle to help keep the towed vehicle steady. Another Catholic layman helper was also in the vehicle proceeding along the Mallaavi Vavunikulam road. Apparently Fr. Karunaratnam was keen on returning to Vavunikulam for lunch.

The two vehicles were at a point near the Kulanthai Yesu (child Jesus) chapel at Ambaikulam when the claymore explosion occurred at about 12. 20 .25 pm. The incident happened between Vavunikulam and Vannivilaankulam at Ambaikulam. It was the towed vehicle at the rear and not the towing vehicle at front that was the target.

The assassins who triggered off the claymore were very clear in their objective. Both the clergyman and layman in the white double cab were injured. Both were taken to Kilinochchi hospital but Fr. Karunaratnam was pronounced dead upon admission.

The layman helper who sustained serious injuries is receiving intensive care at Kilinochchi. The remains of Fr. Karunaratnam were taken to St. There‘s Church in Kilinochchi. Thousands of people both Christian and Hindu paid their respects.

Posters and black flags have also come up in some parts of Army controlled Jaffna in respect of Kilifather and also in protest over the assassination. Mariampillai Xavier Karunaratnam was killed just eight days after his 57th birthday.He was born on April 12th 1951.Kilifather hailed from Karaveddy in the Vadamaratchy region of Jaffna peninsula.

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