Sri Lanka says no ‘bloodbath’ during hostage rescue

May 17, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka said Sunday there was no “bloodbath” during its “rescue” of tens of thousands of civilians held hostage by Tamil Tiger rebels. “There was no bloodbath as some people feared,” Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told reporters. “Everybody has come out safely and they are being looked after by the government.”

The United Nations had described last week’s fighting as a “bloodbath” and said a large number of civilians, including 100 children, were killed when shells slammed into a make-shift hospital inside the war zone.

The government had accused the Tamil Tigers of holding the civilians as human shields and launched what it called the “world’s largest hostage rescue mission.”

The pro-rebel Tamilnet website quoted a Tamil Tiger commander as saying the war zone in the northeast of the island was packed with 25,000 dead or injured.

But Samarasinghe said more than 63,000 people had crossed over into government territory in the past three days, raising the total number of civilians who fled the war zone since January to nearly 250,000.

He said those displaced would be housed and resettled in their o

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