20,000 Tamil civilians killed in final weeks of Sri Lanka war: Report

May 29th, 2009 - 8:20 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 29 (IANS) More than 20,000 Tamil civilians were killed, mostly in army shelling, in the final three weeks of the just-ended civil war in Sri Lanka, a British newspaper reported Friday, contesting official figures.
The Times said in a five-page report illustrated with aerial photographs that the casualties were three times the figure given out by the Sri Lankan government.

The paper said the casualties were suffered during a three-week blitz that began April-end “with the world’s media and aid organisations kept well away from the fighting”.

It quoted confidential United Nations documents as saying nearly 7,000 civilians died in the No-Fire Zone up to the end of April.

The death toll then surged, the paper quoted unnamed UN sources as saying.

An average of 1,000 civilians were killed each day until May 19, when Velupillai Prabhakaran, the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was killed, it said.

It said the figure was corroborated by Father Amalraj, a Roman Catholic priest who fled the No-Fire Zone May 16 and is now interned in the Manik Farm refugee camp.

A spokesman for the Sri Lankan High Commission in London said: “We reject all these allegations. Civilians have not been killed by government shelling at all. If civilians have been killed, then that is because of the actions of the LTTE who were shooting and killing people when they tried to escape.”

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