Five displaced civilians killed in Sri Lanka shelling: LTTE


Colombo : The Tamil Tigers said Sunday that military shelling in the rebel-held Kilinochchi district in Sri Lanka had killed five Tamil civilians, including two children, displaced by fighting.

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The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) also said that three others were wounded in the shelling Saturday evening.

The LTTE Peace Secretariat said in an e-mail statement to the media that the shells fired by the army fell on a plot of land at Puthumurippu, where three families displaced from a village in Mannar in Sri Lanka’s northwest were living. Five people were killed instantly.

The children killed in the shelling were aged one month and two years, the LTTE said, adding that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had visited the scene.

The LTTE’s claim of civilian killing in military shelling came a few days after Colombo urged thousands of Tamils living in rebel-held towns in the north to move into areas under government control for their own safety. It assured them safe passage and protection.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara refuted the LTTE’s latest charges and said the military was “targeting only the LTTE cadres and not the civilians”.

“We are not targeting the areas where civilians are living. We are targeting only the LTTE cadres and their defence positions in the north,” Brig. Nanayakkara said.

Heavy fighting has raged in the northern Wanni region between the advancing government troops and the Tamil Tigers over the past six months.

The authorities said Saturday that at least 19 guerrillas and three soldiers were killed and 35 wounded on both sides in heavy clashes Friday.

The government claims to have captured many rebel strongholds in the Wanni and said it was just 12 km away from the LTTE’s heartland of Kilinochchi town, located some 330 km north of Colombo.