|"45 civilians killed in Sri Lanka" - LTTE
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|Author:||Peter [ Wed Nov 08, 2006 4:27 pm ]|
|Post subject:||"45 civilians killed in Sri Lanka" - LTTE|
Sri Lanka rebels say army firing kills 45 civilians
Wed Nov 8, By Simon Gardner
@ Reuters - India
COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels said 45 civilians were killed and 125 were injured on Wednesday when army artillery fire hit a camp for internally displaced in the island's restive east.
The military said the Tigers had been firing at military camps in the area since early morning, injuring five soldiers, and that troops had retaliated with artillery and mortar bomb fire, but had no details of any civilian casualties.
A team of Nordic truce monitors was on the way to the site of the incident in Kathiraveli in the eastern district of Batticaloa, the latest in a litany of clashes amid a new chapter of the island's two-decade civil war.
"They have hit a camp for displaced. So far 45 have died and 125 are injured -- all civilians," S.Puleedevan, head of the Tigers' Peace Secretariat, told Reuters by satellite phone.
Puleedevan said he was visiting the northern town of Pooneryn, near the army-held Jaffna peninsula, with the head of the island's Nordic truce monitoring mission, and that the army was also firing artillery at them there.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan military have clashed repeatedly in the north and east in recent months, since peace talks collapsed in late October.
The air force has repeatedly bombed Tiger areas since the talks failed.
The military said the Tigers were firing at government forces and using civilians as cover.
"From morning they have been firing artillery at us," said military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe. "We have been retaliating with artillery and mortars. There's no army offensive going on."
"We have been asking people to leave Tiger areas and to come to our areas, and 594 people have done so," he added. "But some of them are being kept as human shields."
Well over 65,000 people have been killed in the conflict since 1983.
The first peace talks in eight months collapsed in late October over a rebel demand that the government reopen the main north-south highway which runs through Tiger territory to Jaffna, a government-held enclave on the northern tip of the island.
© Reuters 2006.
|Author:||Peter [ Fri Nov 10, 2006 2:13 am ]|
|Post subject:||Lanka govt ‘regrets’ killing 65 civilians|
Lanka govt ‘regrets’ killing 65 civilians
Thursday, November 09, 2006
COPYRIGHT © 2006 DILIGENT MEDIA
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s government has expressed regret over the killing of about 65 civilians in an artillery blitz on a rebel-held area, but blamed the Tamil Tigers for using human shields.
Government defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said the military had targeted two Tamil Tiger artillery positions in Wednesday’s attack in the eastern district of Batticaloa, but admitted a civilian centre was also hit.
“While we regret this whole episode, we also must say that national security is uppermost in our minds,” Rambukwella said. “Actions by the defence authorities were inevitable.” The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), he said, had been firing mortar and artillery at government positions, as well as civilian settlements, in the region for over a week. “The LTTE is using humans as shields to cover their operations,” Media Minister Anura Yapa said.
The military said that about 1,000 civilians crossed over to government-held areas on Thursday seeking shelter after Wednesday’s attacks. Nordic monitors said rocket had been fired into two school buildings housing a large number of displaced Tamil civilians. Rambukwella said the Norwegian-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) had reported seeing 23 bodies after the incident. He also pledged the government, which had come in for condemnation, would investigate.
“We still believe that these casualties will rise,” Rambukwella said. “Some people may have been injured and are still in jungle areas. We are not trying to cover up anything and there will be an investigation.”
Tamil rebels and medical sources said at least 65 people were killed and about 300 wounded, 130 of them seriously. A spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said they evacuated 74 wounded from a hospital in the rebel-held area to a government-controlled area. “We will operate a second convoy of ambulances on Thursday),” the ICRC said.
Truce monitors themselves were caught up in long-range attacks on Wednesday. The SLMM monitors came under attack when they were on their way to inspect a route to the besieged northern peninsula of Jaffna, but there were no casualties.
Peace-broker Norway demanded an immediate explanation from the Sri Lankan government for the grenade attack.
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