Thousands fleeing air strikes in northeast Sri Lanka: UN

HONG KONG, Apr. 27 (AFP) – Government air strikes in northeast Sri Lanka have caused thousands of people to flee their homes, the United Nations refugee agency said Thursday. UNHCR spokesman Lyndon Jeffels said UN staff could not confirm local government figures in the district of Trincomalee that 40,000 had been driven from their homes by two days of air strikes against Tamil Tiger rebels.

But he said it was clear that many thousands of frightened people were on the move.

“Certainly it seems that there is a very significant displacement as a consequence of the aerial bombardment,” Jeffels told BBC radio.

He added: “Two weeks ago there was a bombing in the market place in Trincomalee, which unfortunately killed 16 people. Now, as a consequence of that, around 3,000 people have been dispaced to villagges in and around Trincomalee town.

“As a consequence, the airstrikes on Tuesday night and again on Wednesday morning have precipitated a much wider displacement.

“The local government authority in Trincomalee district has issued a figure of 40,000 people on the move in Mutur, which in the east of Trincomalee. This figure we haven’t been able to verify because