Colombo: Nearly 8,000 people were killed in the final phase of Sri Lanka`s war against Tamil Tigers in 2009, according to government figure released on Saturday.
The casualty statistics by Lanka`s Census Department for the first time in a war says that 11,172 people were killed in 2009 at the height of the country`s civil war, a figure in stark contrast to estimates by international rights groups.
Of these 7,934 deaths were described due to "extra-ordinary" circumstances, while 2,523 were natural deaths. The report does not indicate the number of Tamil Tiger combatants killed during the last days of civil war.
It says that between 2005 and 2009 some 22,329 people had died in the country`s north.
The military campaign against the LTTE began in mid 2006 and ended in May three years later. Some 4,156 people remain untraceable during the time of the military conflict. The report, however, has not separated the number of civilians from the number of LTTE fighters who were killed during the military campaign.
Sri Lanka has always argued that true figures of casualties from the military conflict were much lower than the figures cited by international agencies.
A UN Secretary General panel report last April alleged some 40,000 civilians had been killed. The former war theatre in the north has a population of under a million, according to the report.
The census department said the total population in the northern province stood at 997,754 in July last year. It said the June/July enumeration was the first since 1981 when the province became a hotbed of violence with LTTE launching its armed campaign for separatism.
Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu districts which were the epicentres of LTTE campaign together have a population of over 170,000, while the Jaffna district population stood at 567,229, the figures released have shown.