Rights group slams Sri Lanka for not saving Tamil civilians

Apr. 25 (AFP) – Sri Lankan security forces stood by as Sinhalese mobs murdered Tamils after a suspected Tamil Tiger bomb attack earlier this month at a busy market, a human rights watchdog charged Tuesday. The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the Colombo government failed to respond to attacks by Sinhalese men armed with clubs and long knives following bomb blasts blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels in the restive northeast.

The HRW statement on the Trincomalee market bombing nearly two weeks ago came as the Colombo government accused the Tamil Tigers of trying to provoke inter-communal riots by targeting Sinhalese villagers.

“Police and armed forces stood by while the burning and killing occurred, waiting from 45 to 90 minutes before taking action,” the HRW said, referring to rioting after the bomb that initially killed five people.

Attacks from April 12 to 16 left at least 20 civilians dead, including seven women, among them Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese, the watchdog said, adding that 75 people needed hospital attention for injuries.

Some 100 homes were destroyed and 3,000 people left homeless.

“Given continuing ceasefire violations and rising ethnic tensions, communal violence