Sri Lanka, rebels trade charges after civilian massacre

From left: Dr. Fernando Im, Senior Country Economist for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, The World Bank, Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, Dr. W A Wijewardana, Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Prof. Indralal de Silva, Former (Chair) of Demography, University of Colombo, Prof. Amala de Silva, Department of Economics, University of Colombo at the panel discussion on "Demographic Change in Sri Lanka" moderated by Dr. Ramani Gunatilaka, International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

May 15, 2006 (AFP) – The Sri Lankan government traded charges with Tiger rebels on Monday over the killing of 13 Tamil civilians at the weekend, amid escalating violence in the restive northern region. Another bomb went off in the northern peninsula of Jaffna on Monday but there were no casualties, military officials said.

Security had been stepped up in the area following the weekend bloodshed.

Security forces also found 270 sticks of dynamite in the northern district of Vavuniya, the military said.

No arrests were made.

The government said it “strongly condemned” Saturday’s night murder of Tamils in the navy-controlled islet of Kayts and pointed a finger at the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, spokesman on security matters, said the ruthless killing of Tamil civilians could very well be a part of the LTTE strategy to divert international opinion,” a government statement said.

The LTTE in turn blamed the navy for killing the civilians in an area where it said the guerrillas had no access.

“The slaughter of these civilians is seen by the local people as a punishment and a warning to others for not yielding to the demand of the Sri