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 Post subject: Sri Lanka bombs rebels as UN urges peace
 Post Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 9:34 pm 
Sri Lanka bombs rebels as UN urges peace

Air force said no civilian settlement in the Mannar area had been bombed and accused the LTTE of spreading false information to discredit them and win international sympathy.

By Sanjeev Miglani
January 03 2007


Colombo - Sri Lankan jets bombed Tamil Tiger rebel positions on Wednesday, the military said, one day after a raid in the northwest of the island which the United Nations and rebels said killed 14 civilians.

The military said the latest strikes were aimed at heavy weapons of the Tigers in the eastern Batticalao district, the scene of intense fighting for the past few weeks.

It did not give any details and there was no immediate comment from the rebels.

The bombing came as the UN urged the two sides to stop fighting and protect civilians after air strikes the previous day killed 14 people, including six children, the UN and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam said.

The military has denied hitting civilian settlements in the air raid on Tuesday in Mannar district which has become the latest flashpoint in the fighting between the military and the LTTE, despite a 2002 ceasefire.

"Sri Lankans continue to suffer deeply due to this conflict, and today's (Wednesday) loss of life is a source of deepest concern," said Margareta Wahlstrom, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs in a statement in New York on Tuesday.

"It is imperative that both sides to the conflict take all measures to fulfil their obligations under international law to protect civilians in this conflict, we have too often seen them fall short," the statement on the UN website said.

More than 4 000 displaced from the fighting last year were sheltered in the LTTE-controlled coastal village of Illupaikadavai in Mannar district where the bombing was carried out, the UN said.

But the air force said no civilian settlement in the Mannar area had been bombed and accused the LTTE of spreading false information to discredit them and win international sympathy.

It said fighter planes had bombed a well-identified Sea Tigers base in the Mannar area after intense surveillance and radio intercepts.

The LTTE has repeatedly accused the government of targeting Tamil civilians in areas under its control, but the government says the rebels are using local people as human shields.

Fighting between the military and the Tamil Tigers has escalated in recent weeks with the government vowing to dislodge the rebels from their eastern strongholds.

On Wednesday, the Tigers fired artillery and mortar bombs into an army camp in the Vakarai area, wounding four soldiers, the military said.

Vakarai is one of the last major rebel areas on the eastern coast.

More than 3 000 people were killed last year in suicide bombings, air and naval raids and clashes. Both sides say they stand by a 2002 ceasefire, but international monitors say it now exists only on paper.

"The United Nations calls once more for a cessation of hostilities between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and resumption of the peace process," the UN statement said.


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