Civilian casualties in Sri Lanka strike “minimal” — governor

TRINCOMALEE, Apr. 30 (AFP) – The governor of Sri Lanka’s Northeast Province has played down civilian casualties inflicted during military strikes on Tamil Tiger areas, saying they were lower even than those caused by one recent Tiger bombing. “Considering the amount of firepower, the collateral damage is minimal,” Rear Admiral Mohan Wijewickrama said in an interview at his official residence overlooking Trincomalee harbour late Saturday.

“If you look at the number of casualties in Iraq, this is nothing,” he said.

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) political officer S. Elilan said on Friday that 15 civilians had been killed and 25 wounded in Sampur, within rocket range of Trincomalee, during an aerial blitz Tuesday and Wednesday.

He said nearly 18,000 people were displaced during the bombardment in which 600 rockets and a dozen 500-pound bombs landed on northeastern Sampur area, which is held by the LTTE.

The military, saying it was acting in self-defence, launched the strikes after a woman claiming to be pregnant blew herself up at army headquarters in Colombo, about 260 kilometres (161.5 miles) from Trincomalee, on Tuesday.

The suicide bombing targeted the head of the army, leaving him severely wounded.

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