Sri Lanka defends military action against rebels

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - 00:10

Colombo: A top Sri Lankan official on Tuesday
defended government forces against allegations of mass rights
abuses during the war against the Tamil Tigers, and accused
critics of confusing rebel casualties as civilians.

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told a
government-appointed war commission that at least 6,000 troops
were killed in the last years of the conflict and that the
ethnic Tamil rebels likely suffered even heavier casualties
because of the government`s superior fire power.
"Some people talk about the civilian casualties. It`s
very difficult to identify the civilian casualties. If the
military had suffered 6,000 killed-in-action and nearly 30,000
wounded, then you can imagine" the LTTE casualties, he said,
referring to the rebels` formal title, the Liberation Tigers
of Tamil Eelam.

"But nobody talks of the LTTE`s dead and injured. They
put all these figures also into the civilian casualty figure."

Sri Lanka`s 25-year civil war ended in May 2009 after the
government forces crushed the Tamil Tigers who had been
fighting for an independent state for a quarter-century, after
decades of discrimination of Tamils by the ethnic Sinhalese
majority.

The United Nations says at least 7,000 civilians were
killed in the last five months of the conflict. In all, it
says between 80,000 and 100,000 people were killed during the
war.
The International Crisis Group think reported earlier
this year at least 30,000 civilians could have died in the
last years of the war. It also said civilians in the war zone
were deprived of food and medical care.

Rights groups have called for an international probe into
rights abuses by both sides -- including allegations
government troops shelled a "no-fire zone" created by itself
in the northeast of the island after hundreds of thousands of
minority Tamils sought refuge there in the last stages of the
fighting.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - 00:10

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