UN calls civilian killings in Sri Lanka as ‘bloodbath’ (Second Lead, Changing dateline)

May 11th, 2009 - 5:20 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 11 (IANS) A senior UN official Monday spoke of a “bloodbath” following reports that nearly 400 civilians, including at least 100 children, were massacred in northern Sri Lanka at the weekend.
Gordon Weiss, the UN spokesman in Colombo, said that more than 100 children died during the “large-scale killing of civilians”.

“The large-scale killing of civilians, including the death of over 100 children, over the weekend shows that the bloodbath scenario has become a reality,” he told the BBC.

Many more hundreds were wounded, he added.

On Sunday, V. Shanmugarajah, a government doctor working in the war zone, said that at least 378 people were killed and 1,122 wounded in fierce shelling. “The situation is overwhelming; nothing is within our control.”

More bodies were lying on beaches and by the sides of road, he said.

The doctor said the killings took place in gunfire that came from government-held territory but the Sri Lankan armed forces said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had done the firing.

Weiss told BBC radio Monday that between 50,000 and 100,000 civilians were trapped on a “patch of land the size of Central Park in New York City”.

He said the UN was worried about the fate of these civilians as the Sri Lankan armed forces appeared determined to wrest control of this last LTTE stronghold in its final push against the rebel force.

He said both the warring sides - the Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE - were responsible for safeguarding the lives of civilians in their respective areas of control.

The BBC said it was unable to verify the claims of civilian deaths as journalists are banned from the war zone.

It said the issue of civilian casualties is highly sensitive in Sri Lanka and that the state-owned Daily News had made no mention of the reported incident in its edition Monday.

The Sri Lankan government Sunday deported three television journalists working for Britain’s Channel 4 network after they had reported on conditions in government-run refugee camps.

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