Sri Lanka faces child soldier charge as Britain tries to save peace

Nov 13, 2006 (AFP) – The United Nations accused Sri Lanka Monday of recruiting child soldiers to battle Tiger rebels as Britain moved to help save a crumbling peace process. Even as mourners protested the assassination of a moderate Tamil legislator, a top UN official issued a scathing attack on government security forces, accusing them for the first time of forcibly recruiting children.

The special advisor to the UN Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Allan Rock, told reporters here that government soldiers rounded up young Tamil children to be recruited by the “Karuna” group.

“Sri Lankan security forces rounded up children to be recruited by the Karuna faction,” Rock said at the end of a 10-day mission to study the situation of children in the embattled island.

The Karuna faction is a Tamil Tiger breakaway group the main Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) accuses of aiding the military.

Sri Lanka’s army headquarters said they were “perturbed” over Rock’s remarks and accused his mission of wanting to blame security forces.

“It is no secret that the mission (of Rock) by innuendo has gone the extra mile to blame the troops of the security