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UN: killing of Tamil civilians ‘a bloodbath’

[Times Online UK, Monday, 11 May 2009 06:57 No Comment]

The killing of hundreds of ethnic Tamil civilians in a weekend artillery barrage in Sri Lanka’s northern war zone was the "bloodbath" that the international community had long feared would take place, the United Nations has said.

 

The artillery attack killed at least 378 civilians and wounded more than a thousand more, according to a government health official inside rebel-controlled territory in the north.

 

"The U.N. has consistently warned against the bloodbath scenario as we’ve watched the steady increase in civilian deaths over the last few months," U.N. spokesman Gordon Weiss said today.

 

"The large-scale killing of civilians over the weekend, including the deaths of more than 100 children, shows that that bloodbath has become a reality."

 

A rebel-linked Web site blamed the hours-long attack on the government, while the military accused the Tamil Tigers of briefly shelling their own territory to gain international sympathy and force a cease-fire.

The attack marked the bloodiest assault on ethnic Tamil civilians since the civil war flared again more than three years ago. Health officials said a hospital in the war zone was overwhelmed by casualties, and the death toll was expected to rise.

 

About 50,000 civilians are crowded into the 2.4 mile- (4 kilometer) long strip of coast along with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam fighters, who have been fighting for 25 years for a homeland for minority Tamils.

 

The government has brushed off international calls for a humanitarian truce, saying any pause in the fighting would give the rebels time to regroup.

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