TRINCOMALEE, Sri Lanka, Aug 8, 2006 (AFP) – Slumped on the ground outside the hospital in this strife-torn Sri Lankan port town, Khanthasami Sivapaka cries for justice for his favourite daughter — one of 17 aid workers mown down by gunmen. Beside him are freshly painted maroon coffins, delivered to the Trincomalee General Hospital’s gloomy mortuary where the bodies lie covered in white plastic sheets on the stained floor.
“My daughter is gone, my daughter is gone,” Sivapaka whispers to himself, tears streaming from his eyes swollen after sleepless nights wondering about the fate of his beloved Sivapataksan Romila.
The vivacious 25-year-old Romila had joined the French aid agency Action Against Hunger (Action Contre la Faim, ACF) to help thousands left homeless by the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated Sri Lanka’s coastlines.
The work later involved humanitarian missions in conflict zones where battles between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and troops displace entire villages.
On Friday last week Romila, and 16 other ACF volunteers were trapped when the town of Muttur just south of this provincial capital came under heavy artillery and mortar fire from Tiger rebels intending to cut military supply