ICRC concerned about worsening situation in Sri Lanka

GENEVA, April 9, 2007 (AFP) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) voiced concern Monday about the worsening situation in Sri Lanka, urging all sides to respect humanitarian law. “The number of casualties caused by deliberate attacks on civilians has sharply increased in northern and eastern Sri Lanka,” the ICRC said in a press release.

“Only last week some 30 people were killed and more than 50 injured as a result of two bomb attacks on civilian buses and other violent incidents.”

The ICRC referred in particular to an attack on a public bus in the Vavuniya district on Saturday, 250 kilometres (155 miles) to the north of the capital Colombo, where an anti-personnel landmine exploded, killing eight people and injuring 25.

The organisation called on all parties to the conflict to respect the rules and principle of humanitarian law, in particular by distinguishing between civilians and combatants. Since 1972, at least 60,000 people have lost their lives in the violent struggle by Tamil insurgents, who are fighting for independence for the north and north east areas of Sri Lanka.