Chief peace monitor hits out at Sri Lanka water attack

Minister appoints Dr Swaminathan to IPACSL as Chairperson

Aug 7, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s chief truce monitor has criticised government troops for shelling Tamil rebels as they tried to reopen a bitterly contested waterway at the centre of the heaviest clashes in years. An estimated 60,000 people have been killed since the Tamil insurgency began around three decades ago. Ulf Henriksson, head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), said the Maavilaru dam was just minutes away from being re-opened, returning water supplies to thousands of families, when the bombardment started.

“No water. War instead of water. Not a good idea, not a good solution,” Henriksson told the BBC in comments reported Monday.

“… we could have waited some minutes more for the water so I think (the attack) was a bad idea,” he said.

At least 425 people have died in clashes over the Maavilaru dam in the northeastern district of Trincomalee since July 26 after the government accused rebels of blocking the waterway, cutting off supplies to thousands of families.

The guerrillas said residents closed the waterway, which lies in rebel-held territory, to get the government to improve their drinking water supply.

A spokesman for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said the m