Sri Lankan bombing killed Christian civilians, bishop says

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A Sri Lankan bishop says that there was only one rebel soldier who was on leave among 16 Christian civilians killed and 35 wounded in an attack last week on a Sri Lankan village by four airforce bombers.

The 16 dead included seven children under ten years killed with up to 60 injured by the aerial bombing by four Israeli-made K-fir jets on a village in the District of Mannar at on the morning of 2 January, the Journal Chretien reports.

Bishop Joseph Rayappu of Mannar-Vavuniya diocese, who arrived in the village just after midday on the day of the bombing, inspected the site and spoke with survivors. He also made detailed inquiries about the alleged presence of a sea base of the rebel group Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in the vicinity. He also visited the local hospital.

"I, in the presence of the Catholic priest of this area saw eight civilian bodies of the above tragedy at the Pallamadhu hospital out of whom three were children of 2, 6 and 11 years old," Bishop Rayappu reported later. "They were all limbless and three of them headless."

"The parish Priest of this area had seen five bodies of civilians known to him who succumbed to death at Mulankavil hospital, this morning.

"I was told by the Doctor of the Pallamadhu hospital that more than 35 wounded people had been dispatched to Mulankavil hospital and from there, nearly 25 serious cases had been sent to Kilinochchi hospital most of whom are, I was told children and women. A good number of these may not survive, I was told by a doctor," Bishop Rayappu continued.

"There were no LTTE killed in this incident except one who was on leave and had come in civil, minutes before the attack to this place to pay New Year visit to his mother-in-law, as I came to know from my inquires," the bishop concluded.

Illuppaikkadavai, the site of the bombing, is a small village whose population has swelled with more than 4000 displaced people seeking refuge there.

The village falls within areas in Mannar district controlled by the LTTE.

Other reports put the toll of injured at 50-60 people. However, reports say that Sri Lankan government forces blocked the injured from reaching local hospitals.

"Sri Lankans continue to suffer deeply due to this conflict, and today's loss of life is a source of deepest concern," said Margareta Wahlstrom, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Acting Emergency Relief Coordinator.

"It is imperative that both sides to the conflict take all measures to fulfil their obligations under international law to protect civilians in this conflict ; we have too often seen them fall short in this duty."

"The United Nations calls once more for a cessation of hostilities between the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and resumption of the peace process, and recalls the responsibility of all parties to the conflict to protect civilians and uphold international human rights and humanitarian law".


SOURCE
16 Tamil Civilian Christians Killed by Bombing in Sri Lanka (Journal Chr�tien, 6/1/07)

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8 Jan 2007