Sri Lanka relieves officers over killing of villagers

August 30, 2013 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s army on Friday reprimanded senior officers accused of leading a deadly crackdown earlier this month on villagers who were demonstrating against contaminated water, the military said. She is visiting Sri Lanka in connection with allegations that troops killed up to 40,000 civilians in the final stages of the war against Tamil rebels in 2009. Sri Lanka has denied that its troops were responsible for killing civilians or committing any war crimes. Four officers were stripped of their command pending the outcome of a judicial inquiry into the incident in which troops opened fire and allegedly later beat up villagers demanding clean drinking water.

“The commander of the army has ordered to relieve four senior officers… from their duties with immediate effect,” the military said in a statement, which coincided with this week’s visit by the UN’s human rights chief.

Three villagers were killed in the shooting on August 1 just outside the capital, which sparked international concern.

Military officials said the four officers would retain their pay and remain within their units, until the outcome of the inquiry.

The archbishop of Colombo was among those who condemned the m