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Shells like rain’: Priest describes Sri Lanka ‘no-fire’ zone – CathNews

[MISC, Monday, 25 May 2009 21:31 No Comment]

A Sri Lankan priest, Fr Amalraj, who was caught with his parishioners in the so-called "no-fire zone", has described army shelling as like rain and also accused the LTTE of killing people in the last week’s of the just concluded civil war.

The area where Fr Amalraj and his parishioners were trapped is a scene of such utter devastation that it mocks its very name, The Times reports.

"There was heavy shelling from the army side. The LTTE shot people. The army were trying to capture us," Fr Amalraj told the paper.
"The people were caught in between in the last moment for the LTTE and the crucial point in the battle, for the army. I cannot say which side was crueller."
Fr Amalraj and his parishioners had been on the run since November, when they had fled their village. They had kept one step ahead of the advancing front, but were trapped in the end on a narrow strip of land on the eastern side of the Nanthikadal lagoon, north of Mullaitivu, in February, soon after it was designated as the "no-fire zone".
"The shelling was just like raining," he said. "Within this two square kilometres there were more than 100,000 people, packed in and shells raining down."
The UN believes that between 8000 and 10,000 civilians have died in the conflict since the beginning of this year.
But Fr Amalraj says he thinks the total is about 20,000."
Now the priest and his people are trapped again behind barbed wire in a camp known as Mannik Farm.
"The concentration camps of the Second World War are here in Sri Lanka," Fr Amalraj said. Among those being held in camps are 20 Catholic priests who stayed with those trapped in the conflict zone until the resistance was finally wiped out this week.
"They were inside bunkers with the civilians until the army came and rescued them after the killing of [Tamil Tiger] leaders," Fr Damian Fernando, the spokesman for Caritas, said.
One priest who was inside the conflict zone was still unaccounted for, he said.

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