Sri Lankan gov't says rebels fire at more civilians
Some 14 civilians fleeing for safety from the battle zone in the north were fired at by Tamil Tiger rebels on Saturday, Sri Lanka's defense officials said here on Sunday.
A local employee of a UN agency was among the 14 civilians who were injured by the shooting, said the officials.
They said 592 civilians on Saturday fled the Puttumatalan area in the northern Mullaittivu district, the small patch of land the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) currently trapped.
The government has accused the rebels of holding the Tamil civilian population as human shields in order to thwart the forward movement of the troops, Xinhua reported.
International agencies have called on the troops to avoid civilian casualties and the government maintains that its zero civilian casualty policy is being followed in its campaign to eliminate terrorism.
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said 432 more of the sick and wounded civilians and their relatives were ferried from Mullaithivu to the eastern port of Trincomalee Saturday.This was the 10th such transport of civilians via sea route since February conducted by the ICRC.
The government claimed that it has provided best care possible for the war displaced in the welfare centers established for them.
The government said its military offensive against the LTTE is at final stage after the troops having recaptured most of the LTTE 's 15,000 sq km territories in successive military victories since 2006.
Claiming discrimination at the hands of Sinhalese majority governments, the LTTE began its armed struggle in the 1980s to set up an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east, resulting in the killing of more than 70,000 people.