January 26, 2009 (AFP) – The United Nations said Monday at least 30 civilians had been killed in fighting between government forces and rebels in Sri Lanka amid a drive to root out the last pockets of Tamil Tiger resistance. The UN spokesman in Colombo, Gordon Weiss, said at least 10 civilians were killed on Monday morning inside an area declared as a “safety zone” by the Sri Lankan military while dozens more were killed or wounded over the weekend.
Weiss said he could not say who was responsible for the civilian casualties, but UN staff in the area had witnessed civilians getting hit by artillery shells.
“Roughly at least 20 people were killed over the weekend when shells landed on the A-35 road inside the safety zone. Our staff members were at the scene to witness it,” he said. “We don’t know where the firing came from.”
The government last week declared a safe zone inside what is left of rebel-held territory in the district of Mullaittivu to prevent tens of thousands of civilians getting caught up in the crossfire.
The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) did not comment on the casualties, but pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website said more than 100 civilians were killed in artillery fire on Mon