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 Post subject: Sri Lanka troops responsible for killing of 17 aid workers
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 30, 2006 4:00 pm 
Sri Lanka troops responsible for killing of 17 aid workers: monitors

The statement said chief monitor Ulf Henricsson had confidential discussions with "highly reliable sources" about those responsible for the killings. "Taking into consideration the fact that the security forces had been present in Muttur at the time of the incident, it appears highly unlikely to blame other groups for the killings."

@ LBO/30 Aug 2006

Aug 30, 2006 (AFP) - Nordic truce monitors in Sri Lanka said Wednesday that government forces were responsible for the killing earlier this month of 17 local employees of the French charity Action Against Hunger.

The Swedish-led monitors of a 2002 ceasefire also said in a statement that Sri Lankan troops blocked their access to the northeast town of Muttur in a bid to conceal the mass killing.

"The killing of the 17 civilian aid workers in Muttur on the 4th of August 2006 is ruled as a gross violation of the ceasefire agreement by the Security Forces of Sri Lanka," the monitors said.

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The statement said chief monitor Ulf Henricsson had confidential discussions with "highly reliable sources" about those responsible for the killings.

"The views have not proved contradictory and the security forces of Sri Lanka are widely and consistently deemed to be responsible for the incident.

"Taking into consideration the fact that the security forces had been present in Muttur at the time of the incident, it appears highly unlikely to blame other groups for the killings."

The killing of the aid workers in Muttur in northeast Sri Lanka came during a spike in tit-for-tat attacks between the rebels and the government that has left the ceasefire in tatters.

At least 1,500 people have been killed in fighting since December.

The Sri Lankan government had ordered an investigation into the killings and called in Australian forensic experts to assist with the probe.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam blamed the government for the deaths.

The government in turn accused the rebels.

Troops and Tamil Tiger rebels fought fierce battles in mid-August around Muttur, forcing around 42,000 civilians to flee to avoid being caught in the crossfire.

The aid workers were killed "execution-style" according to those who saw their bodies several days after the killing.

There was no immediate comment from the government.


Related News:
:arrow: 15 Tamil aid workers executed in Mutur - Photos added
:arrow: Ulf barking up the wrong tree


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 Post subject: Monitors blame Sri Lanka forces for aid massacre
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 30, 2006 7:06 pm 
Monitors blame Sri Lanka forces for aid massacre

The government has denied troops were involved in the execution-style killings and promised an investigation. "What disturbs me is the speed with which SLMM made this ruling," said head of the government peace secretariat Palitha Kohona. "Why was the SLMM in such a hurry when there is still a judicial inquiry going on?"

By Peter Apps
@ Washington Post / Reuters ,Wednesday, August 30, 2006


COLOMBO (Reuters) - International ceasefire monitors blamed Sri Lankan troops on Wednesday for the killing of 17 aid workers during fighting with Tamil tiger rebels earlier in the month.

The victims were working on tsunami relief projects for international aid group Action Contre La Faim in the northeastern town of Mutur, the scene of several days of fighting between troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

"SLMM is, with the obtained findings, convinced that there cannot be any other armed groups than the security forces who could actually have been behind the act," said a statement from the unarmed Nordic-staffed Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission(SLMM).

The government has denied troops were involved in the execution-style killings and promised an investigation.

"What disturbs me is the speed with which SLMM made this ruling," said head of the government peace secretariat Palitha Kohona. "Why was the SLMM in such a hurry when there is still a judicial inquiry going on?"

The victims, all but one of them ethnic Tamils, were found shot dead and lying face down in the compound of their office. The killing was the worst mass murder of aid staff since a 2003 bomb attack on the United Nations compound in Baghdad, Iraq.

Many aid staff and some of the families blamed the military, who have also been accused of other killings.

The SLMM statement came as a delegation headed by President Mahinda Rajapakse left for London. Rajapakse is to meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday for what officials called "substantive talks" to discuss the ongoing open warfare between the government and the rebels.

The key issue is likely to be lessons learned from the Northern Ireland peace process. Former senior Irish Republican Army (IRA) member Martin McGuinness has met Rajapakse twice and the rebels once this year to discuss the same issue.

NORTHERN IRELAND LESSONS

Diplomats say the fact Sri Lanka wants to talk about the Northern Ireland experience is a positive sign, but a 2002 truce with the rebels has been shattered and remains only on paper.

A meeting between Rajapakse and London-based Tiger theoretician Anton Balasingham on the same trip is seen as possible, but probably unlikely.

"I think it's a remote possibility," said Kohona, part of the government delegation to London. "I wouldn't want to speculate."

The SLMM statement came only days before outgoing Swedish mission head Major General Ulf Henricsson steps down because of demands from the Tigers that all European Union monitors quit.

The demand came after the EU declared the Tigers a terrorist organization. Monitors from non-EU members Norway and Iceland will remain in Sri Lanka after the September 1 deadline issued by the rebels.

SLMM also ruled that a fragmentation mine attack on a civilian bus in June that killed almost 70 people was a breach of the ceasefire by the Tigers, while blaming the government for a string of similar attacks in rebel areas. Each deny the charge.

Government forces and the Tigers are now involved in artillery and mortar battles around the northeastern port of Trincomalee.

Hundreds of troops, rebels and civilians have died in the past month, and more than 200,000 people have fled their homes. The army said 13 soldiers have been killed in action and 79 wounded in the area since Monday.

The Tigers, who want a separate ethnic Tamil homeland in the north and east, vow they will never leave the area around the town of Sampur, a position on the southern edge of the harbor that allows them to shell the naval base and nearby shipping.

"If the Sri Lankan military aggression continued, it would set a full stop to the February 2002 Ceasefire Agreement," pro-rebel Web site www.tamilnet.com quoted Tiger military spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiraiyan as saying.


(With reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Simon Gardner in COLOMBO)


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