Monday, May 17, 2010


Read the full ICG report

The Sri Lankan government killed thousands of its civilians by shelling "no-fire zones" in the last months of the country's decades-long civil war that ended a year ago, an independent group said Monday.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group urged the United Nations and Sri Lanka's aid donors to press for a war crimes investigation into the military offensive that finally crushed the separatist Tamil Tiger guerrillas.

The ICG said the military encouraged hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians to move into government-declared "no-fire zones" and then subjected them to "repeated and increasingly intense artillery and mortar barrages."

"This continued through May despite the government and security forces knowing the size and location of the civilian population and scale of civilian casualties," the ICG charged.

It repeated allegations that government troops also intentionally shelled hospitals as well as aid operations run by international relief agencies.

"The consequences of the security forces' shelling were made substantially worse by the government's obstruction of food and medical treatment for the civilian population," it added.

The report, released on Monday, said Sri Lanka's leaders must be held accountable for the civilian deaths, and it also blamed the Tamil Tigers for war atrocities.

"The substantial body of evidence collected by the Crisis Group since August 2009 offers a compelling case for investigation of the conduct of hostilities and the role of the military and political leadership on both sides," it said.

The ICG said it had collected eyewitness statements as well as hundreds of photographs, videos, satellite images, electronic communications and documents from multiple sources to support the charges.


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