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Lanka violence kills 55, nine die as shells hit hospital

[PTI, Monday, 2 February 2009 13:32 No Comment]

At least nine patients were killed and 20 others injured when artillery shells hit a crowded hospital in Sri Lanka’s northern war zone, sparking fresh concerns over security of trapped civilians, even as 46 Tamil Tigers died in fierce fighting with troops.

The hospital, situated in rebel-held territory of Puthukkudiyiruppu in the Wanni region and housing around 500 patients, suffered direct hits in two separate shellings yesterday afternoon, aid agencies said today.
The shells, which fell into the pediatrics and women’s wards other than a kitchen and a chapel, killed nine patients and wounded 20, Red Cross spokeswoman Sarasi Wijeratne said.

"We’re shocked that the hospital was hit, and this for the second time in recent weeks," Head of the Colombo delegation of ICRC Paul Castella said in a statement.

The incident intensified concerns over the nearly 250,000 civilians trapped in the war zone in the north where LTTE remnants are engaged in a do-or-die battle with the advancing troops who had recaptured most of the rebel-held areas in recent fighting.

The Sri Lankan army denied any involvement in the shelling and blamed the Tamil Tigers.

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