Sri Lanka troops killed 17 French aid workers: monitors

Aug 30, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lankan troops killed 17 French charity workers and waged a bombing campaign against Tamil rebels, truce monitors said Wednesday, amid fears the nation was headed for full-scale war. As of Thursday, the SLMM will have to carry out its duties with just 30 members instead of 57. The Swedish-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) said security forces were responsible for the massacre of the 17 local employees of Action Against Hunger earlier this month.

The workers were shot in the back of the head at their office in the northeastern coastal town of Muttur when troops and Tamil Tiger guerrillas were fighting pitched battles to control the region.

The Sri Lankan government rejected the SLMM statement as “outrageous” and said the outgoing head of the SLMM, Ulf Henricsson, had jumped the gun before a police and forensic investigation into the slayings.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, visiting London, told the BBC the SLMM “should play a more independent and non-partisan role.”

“I am not calling him (Henricsson) a liar but I am calling it a very, very irresponsible statement,” he told the BBC.

Meanwhile, Finland, which holds the EU rotating presidency,