Sri Lanka demands proof of massacre charges

COLOMBO, Aug 31, 2006 (AFP) – The Sri Lankan government demanded proof Thursday of allegations by Nordic truce monitors that security forces were responsible for the massacre of 17 aid workers of a French charity. “It is premature to blame the government without any supporting evidence,” Sri Lankan government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said in Colombo.

The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) said Wednesday that Sri Lankan troops were involved in the execution-style slayings of the 17 local workers of Action Against Hunger during battles with Tiger Tamil rebels near the town of Muttur in the northeast earlier this month.

The government had previously charged that the monitors were biased towards the rebels.

Rambukwella declined to comment directly on a threat by the United Nations to halt aid operations in Sri Lanka in the wake of the killings unless those responsible were “held accountable.”

The UN’s humanitarian chief Jan Egeland said in New York that the allegations that soldiers were involved in the killings demanded an explanation.

“It was unacceptable that the government had not provided any explanation regarding the executions,” Egeland said in a statement released Thursday in Colombo