India ‘concerned’ over Sri Lanka conflict: minister

NEW DELHI, October 22, 2008 (AFP) – India voiced concern Wednesday over the conflict in Sri Lanka as Tamil MPs in parliament clashed over charges of “genocidal attacks” on the Tamil minority in the troubled island nation.

Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told parliament that New Delhi had conveyed its worries to Colombo over the safety of civilians caught in the cross-fire between government troops and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

“The situation in Sri Lanka is of serious concern to the government, in particular the deteriorating humanitarian situation in north of Sri Lanka,” Mukherjee said.

“We are concerned about the plight of the civilians caught in the hostilities and the growing number of internally-displaced persons,” he said as Indian MPs prodded New Delhi to intervene and stem the fighting.

“An effort is on to wipe out Tamils from the island nation,” said D. Siva, an MP with the Tamil regional DMK party which opposes Sri Lanka’s offensive against the LTTE separatist rebels.

“We urge the prime minister to intervene and stop the genocidal attacks,” Siva.

Mukherjee said a top aide of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s would visit India “shortly” to discuss the