200 civilians die in two months of Sri Lanka fighting: monitors

Chandi Dharmaratne

Sept 28, 2006 (AFP) – Fighting between Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tiger rebels has caused the deaths of at least 200 civilians in the past two months, Norwegian-led truce monitors said Thursday. The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) said both the Colombo government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had openly violated their truce by launching military action against each other since July 26.

“As a result of these actions, over 200 civilians have been killed and several thousand are internally displaced,” the monitors said in a statement.

The fighting has created “a serious humanitarian crisis in the eastern and northern parts of Sri Lanka,” the statement said.

The SLMM said the Tigers set off the latest wave of violence by blocking an irrigation canal in the island’s north-eastern district of Trincomalee, but also faulted the military for blatantly violating the ceasefire by capturing territory previously held by the Tigers in the same district.

“The SLMM would like to underline that the gravity of the violations committed have led to a dangerous escalation in hostilities,” SLMM chief Lars Solvberg said.

“It is important that the parties realise the seri