Earlier on that fateful day in 1987, an attempt was made on the life of Sathasivam Krishnakumar alias Kittu, then Jaffna district leader of LTTE. A hand grenade was tossed at Kittu when he was leaving his girl friend's house located near the Jaffna central college after a “visit”. Mr. Krihsnakumar survived the attack, but lost one of his legs in the incident. Hearing about the incident, Aruna rushed to the LTTE's detention house, grabbed an AK-47 assault rifle and fired into the room full of prisoners, instantly killing all but two of those in the room. It was later alleged that another LTTE area commander Mahendirarajah (alias Mahathaya) was responsible for that attempt on Kittu's life.
The Kanthan Karunai massacre is often compared to the killings at the Welikada prison during the 1983 riots where 53 Tamil political prisoners were killed by Sinhala mobs with the connivance of the prison authorities . Unlike the Welikada massacre that occurred over a two days during an island-wide Sinhala on Tamil communal riots, the Kanthan Karunai massacre of prisoners was carried out by a senior LTTE leader a Tamil and the net results was the massacre of 63 Tamils within a span of 15 minutes.
In Jaffna a small number of relatives of the victims gathered at a Sivan temple in Nallur and participated in a special religious function. It is learnt that relatives of the victims attended special religious functions held in European cities. In Essen, Germany, a memorial service was arranged to remember the victims. It is reported that this year is the first time since the 'Kanthan Karunai massacres' that Sri Lankan Tamils remembered the victims in public.