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Posts Tagged ‘no-fire zone’

Colombo, June 01, 2010
Last Updated: 08:42 IST(1/6/2010)

One year after the end of the Sri Lankan civil war, one of the Indian doctors who treated Tamil refugees during the last months of the conflict says there were “massive casualties” among the civilian population. (more…)

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The Washington Post

By EMILY WAX

NORTHEASTERN COAST, Sri Lanka — The strip of beach where tens of thousands of civilians huddled during the Sri Lankan military’s decisive assault against the Tamil Tiger rebels this month shows clear signs of heavy artillery shelling, according to a helicopter inspection of the site by independent journalists, interviews with eyewitnesses, and specialists who have studied high-resolution satellite imagery from the war zone.

That evidence contradicts government assertions that areas of heavy civilian populations were no-fire zones that were deliberately spared during the final weeks of military assault that ended this island nation’s quarter-century of civil war.

“We see a lot of images of destroyed structures and what look like circular shell craters and also, frankly, very large holes in the ground. If it was a shell, it must be a very large one to make 24-feet-wide craters,” said Lars Bromley, director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights project, which was asked by human rights groups to study the satellite images. (more…)

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By BBC NEWS

The Sri Lankan government has strongly denied allegations that more than 20,000 civilians were killed during its recent onslaught against Tamil rebels.

The figures published in The Times newspaper in the UK – quoting official documents and witness accounts – is far higher than previously thought.

A senior official from Sri Lanka’s Centre for National Security told the BBC the accusations were totally false.

The UN says that there are no confirmed estimates of civilian casualties.

The last time it gave an estimate was about two weeks before the end of the war, when it said that 6,500 people had died.

But the UN Resident Co-ordinator for Sri Lanka, Neil Buhne, has told the BBC that he has no final figure in part because access to displaced people in camps is restricted by the government.

The government’s denials are likely to be dismissed by many of its critics, who accuse it of repeatedly giving out inaccurate information about what has been happening in the north.

Aid agencies point out that its insistence that only about 110,000 civilians were trapped in fighting in the north – and its condemnation of UN figures saying the true figure was twice that – was followed by more than 250,000 civilians emerging from the area. (more…)

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The Times

By CATHERINE PHILP

More than 20,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final throes of the Sri Lankan civil war, most as a result of government shelling, an investigation by The Times has revealed.

The number of casualties is three times the official figure.

The Sri Lankan authorities have insisted that their forces stopped using heavy weapons on April 27 and observed the no-fire zone where 100,000 Tamil men, women and children were sheltering. They have blamed all civilian casualties on Tamil Tiger rebels concealed among the civilians.

Aerial photographs, official documents, witness accounts and expert testimony tell a different story. With the world’s media and aid organisations kept well away from the fighting, the army launched a fierce barrage that began at the end of April and lasted about three weeks. The offensive ended Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war with the Tamil Tigers, but innocent civilians paid the price. (more…)

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The Times

By CATHERINE PHILP

From the air, the battle zone reveals itself one clue at a time — the scorched patches of earth, the blasted palm trees, the burnt-out skeletal houses.

Then the helicopter banks sharp right over the green lagoon and a blaze of white sand appears — to the gasps of the first outsiders to glimpse the beach where the Tamil Tigers made their last stand. (more…)

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By BBC News

British and French foreign ministers in Sri Lanka have urged the government to halt its military offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels in the north. UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the call was not aimed at saving the Tamil rebel leader but the lives of thousands of civilians trapped. Correspondents say the government is unlikely to agree to a truce. It has previously rejected similar calls and its relations with European countries have been tense. The Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, had been due to accompany his European colleagues on the visit, but was refused entry by the Sri Lankan government. The European Union has strongly criticised the refusal. ‘Winning the peace’ “No-one in the international community has been calling for a ceasefire or to stop firing to save [Tiger leader Vellupillai] Prabhakaran. The calls have come because of the overwhelming concern with the wellbeing of the civilians,” Mr Miliband said.

(more…)

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By RAVI NESSMAN, Associated Press
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Indian officials took a demand for an immediate cease-fire in Sri Lanka’s civil war to the country’s president on Friday as the U.N. reported that nearly 6,500 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed in the last three months.
Concern for the safety of civilians trapped in the ever-shrinking war zone has increased in recent weeks as the government pushed ahead with its offensive to crush the rebels and end the nation’s quarter-century civil war.
The U.N. estimates that 50,000 people are still trapped in the war zone, spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said Friday.

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