UN chief ‘disturbed’ by escalating violence in Sri Lanka

UNITED NATIONS, March 27, 2007 (AFP) – UN chief Ban Ki-moon is “disturbed” by the extensive violations of the ceasefire in Sri Lanka and urges the rival sides to resume negotiations without preconditions, his press office said Tuesday.

“The secretary general is disturbed by the extensive and escalating violations of the ceasefire,” his office said in a statement.

“He deeply regrets that air raids, military confrontations and suicide bombings have become a daily occurrence, prompting massive displacement and suffering for civilians.”

Ban, who is on his way to Saudi Arabia to attend an Arab summit, appealed to Sri Lankan authorities and Tamil Tiger separatists “to break this vicious cycle of attack and retaliation, which only leads to more bloodshed and victims.”

He urged the two sides to return to the negotiating table “as soon as possible, without preconditions.”

Earlier Tuesday, the Sri Lankan military bombed suspected Tamil Tiger rebel targets across the island’s embattled northeast, the second straight day of air strikes.

Tuesday’s air attacks by the Sri Lankan military came a day after Tamil Tigers separatists flew single-engined planes over the main military air base adjacent to Sri Lanka’s only intern