Sri Lankan aid workers were shot dead: French charity

PARIS, Aug 8, 2006 (AFP) – Seventeen employees of a French charity found dead in northeastern Sri Lanka at the weekend were all executed by gunfire, the group confirmed Tuesday, demanding that those responsible be severely punished. Following the massacre, the charity suspended its local mission to Sri Lanka, whose 15 expatriate and 224 local workers provided humanitarian relief in conflict zones and in areas hit by the December 2004 Tsumani. “A team sent to the scene by Action Contre la Faim (Action Against Hunger, ACF) on Monday was able to confirm the toll and retrieve — despite the ongoing fighting — the 17 bodies,” it said in a statement.

Most of the victims, 13 men and four women aged 23 to 54, were engineers specialised in water sanitation and agronomy as well as project managers.

“ACF’s entire team in Muttur was assassinated,” the charity said.

“Now that it is clear this was a mass murder targeting clearly identified humanitarian workers, ACF is determined not to settle for vague answers from the parties to the conflict… and will demand exemplary punishment.”

The charity workers — all Sri Lankan nationals — were found dead on Sunday in their office in the northeastern town of Muttur, where heavy fighting