Sri Lanka admits civilian deaths in separatist war

August 1, 2011 (AFP) – Sri Lanka on Monday admitted for the first time that civilians may have been killed during its military push against Tamil Tigers rebels in 2009 that has been dogged by allegations of war crimes. A defence ministry report entitled “Humanitarian operation factual analysis” said they followed a “zero civilian casualty policy” but in the face of a formidable enemy it was impossible to fully implement it.

“Despite clear intent of the government of Sri Lanka and the numerous precautions taken, it was impossible in a battle of this magnitude, against a ruthless opponent actively endangering civilians, for civilian casualties to be avoided,” the 161-page report said.

President Mahinda Rajapakse, who is also the commander-in-chief, marked the first anniversary of crushing the Tigers last year insisting that not a single civilian was killed by his troops.

“Our troops carried a gun in one hand and a copy of the human rights charter in the other,” Rajapakse said at an anniversary victory parade attended by thousands of troops in Colombo in June last year.

“Our guns were not fired at a single civilian.”

He has also insisted that he will not allow any of his troops to be taken