Sri Lanka detains war zone doctors

May 18, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka has detained four doctors who worked inside Tamil Tiger territory, treating wounded civilians and providing reports on heavy civilian casualties that contradicted government accounts, an official said Monday. Doctors Thurairaja Varatharajah, Thangamuttu Sathyamurthi and V. Shanmugarajah were arrested when they crossed over to government territory on Sunday.

Another doctor and his assistant were held last Friday, the official said.

“They were handed over to the Criminal Investigations Department on Sunday and detained for questioning,” Samarasinghe said.

Officials said Varatharajah was undergoing medical treatment for bullet wounds to his shoulder, while the others were flown to Colombo.

The government had prevented journalists and international monitors accessing the war zone, where the International Committee of the Red Cross reported an “unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe”.

The fighting ended on Monday after the military said the last of 300 Tiger rebels, including the group’s leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, had been killed.