February 14, 2009 (AFP) – Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels lobbed a grenade and opened fire at a bus transporting civilians out of Sri Lanka’s war zone on Saturday, killing one woman and wounding 13, the defence ministry said. Sri Lanka has resisted calls for a “no-fire period,” amid claims from relief agencies that a “humanitarian catastrophe” was unfolding in the island’s war zone.
Foreign governments as well as rights groups have asked Tamil Tigers to allow civilians free movement. The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) attacked the bus at Puliyankulam in the island’s north while it headed to the government-held town of Vavuniya, the ministry said.
It said four women and two girls were among those shot by the gunmen in the pre-dawn attack.
The government accuses the LTTE of using some 100,000 Tamil civilians as a human shield after military forces cornered the guerrillas in a narrow strip of jungle in the island’s north-east.
However, official figures showed 37,420 people had crossed the front lines this year, with nearly 35,000 making the hazardous journey this month alone to seek shelter with security forces.
The Red Cross says hundreds of non-combatants have already been killed