War of words over a Sri Lanka child deaths

June 11, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels Sunday accused international rights watchdogs of remaining silent over the killings of 24 children allegedly by government forces. More than 680 people have died over the past six months despite a four-year truce between government forces and the LTTE in an ethnic conflict that has claimed over 60,000 lives since 1972. The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who face regular international condemnation for allegedly recruiting child soldiers, said that rights groups had failed to criticise the recent deaths of children in attacks linked to the country’s festering ethnic conflict.

“The gruesome nature of the murders of children must send chills down the spines of anyone, in particular those who have proclaimed concerns for the welfare of the children,” the LTTE said in a statement.

The rebels said child deaths could have been prevented if an outright condemnation had been issued after each killing.

“Yet, everyone with proclaimed interest in child welfare is dead silent.”

Defence ministry spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe denied security forces were involved in killing children and accused the rebels of making fal