Sri Lanka rejects satellite evidence of civilian bombings

May 2, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s defence ministry on Saturday rejected satellite imagery issued by the United Nations in support of allegations that security forces shelled a civilian area. The defence ministry said the allegations based on UN aerial images posted on the UNOSAT website and used on several foreign television channels had “no scientific validity” unless there was verification on the ground.

“Conclusions drawn from the interpretations of these images have no scientific validity,” the ministry said, responding to reports the military had shelled an area the government itself had designated a no-fire zone.

The pictures showed craters which were formed inside the zone between February 15 and April 19, the day before the army breached the Tigers’ defences and civilians started to pour out.

“The imagery is fairly clear and shows the time, so anybody can study and compare them,” head of the mapping unit at UNOSAT, Einer Bjorge, told Al Jazeera. He said the pattern of the craters would have required air power.

Sri Lanka has consistently denied it used heavy weapons against civilian populated areas and last week announced it had ordered security forces not to use he