Sri Lanka shelling reportedly kills 11
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Government forces fired barrages of artillery into the northern war zone yesterday, killing at least 11 civilians, a day after it pledged to stop such attacks because of the risk to innocent lives, a rebel-linked website and a local doctor said.
Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara denied the accusation. While government troops were pushing forward with their fight to destroy the Tamil Tiger rebels, he said, they were using only small arms.
The dispute came as Sri Lanka fought off intense international pressure to accept a temporary truce to allow tens of thousands of trapped civilians to escape the fighting. The foreign ministers of Britain and France were headed here today to further press the government for a cease-fire.
The government, which accuses the Tamil Tigers of holding the civilians as human shields, said any pause in the battle would allow the rebels to regroup just as they face certain defeat in their quarter-century separatist war.
The TamilNet website reported that Sri Lankan troops fired repeated volleys of artillery and mortar shells into the area in an attack that began late Monday and lasted through yesterday morning.
About a dozen shells hit a makeshift hospital inside rebel territory, killing five patients and sending many others fleeing for their lives, said Dr. Thangamuttu Sathyamurthi, a government physician working in the war zone.