Children pay high price for Sri Lanka fighting: UNICEF

May 16, 2006 (AFP) – At least six children were killed in the latest surge of violence in Sri Lanka’s northeast and thousands were made homeless, the United Nations children’s fund UNICEF said Tuesday. “The ongoing violence underlines the urgency for the parties to the conflict to take immediate action to avoid slipping back into a state of war,” UNICEF said in a statement calling for the resumption of peace talks.

More than 200 people have died over the past month despite a four-year truce between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in an ethnic conflict that has claimed over 60,000 lives since 1972.

UNICEF urged the two sides to “cease the violence” and to return to talks in Switzerland. “Negotiations offer the best hope of peace,” it said.

The UNICEF statement came as the Tamil Tigers accused the UN agency of silence following the killing of Tamil children, including a four-month-old and a four-year-old, by unidentified attackers on Saturday.

“If you can’t condemn, get out, UNICEF, UN, EU (European Union) from Sri Lanka,” said an LTTE headline over a series of gruesome pictures of mutilated bodies of people killed in the northern peninsula of Jaffna on Saturday.