Sri Lanka exhumes bodies of French charity workers

Oct 18, 2006 (AFP) – The bodies of 15 aid workers massacred in Sri Lanka were exhumed in the northeastern town of Trincomalee on Wednesday in a fresh bid to determine who killed them, police said. The victims were among 17 mostly Tamil workers with the Paris-based Action Against Hunger (ACF) who were gunned down August 4 at their offices in the war-torn eastern town of Muttur.

The bodies of two of the dead have already been exhumed and sent to Colombo. The remaining bodies were retrieved Wednesday in the presence of a judge and forensic experts.

Australian experts are due to be present at fresh autopsies, principally as observers and advisers.

The killings came during a period of heavy fighting between the government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE).

The 13 men and four women, aged between 23 and 54, worked mostly as engineers on water sanitation and farm projects for the charity.

Nordic truce monitors have blamed the killings — the worst attack on aid workers since the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003 — on government forces. The government has denied any role in the massacre, which forced ACF to drastically scale down its operation