UN charges on civilian killings unsubstantiated: Sri Lanka

March 14th, 2009 - 5:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, March 14 (IANS) Sri Lanka Saturday rejected the charges by the United Nations that 2,800 civilians had been killed in the island’s northern war-zone in recent weeks and said that the figures by the world body were “unsubstantiated”.
“We are very disappointed and dismayed about this statement. The statement relies heavily on so-called reliable sources and puts down unsubstantiated figures in respect of civilian killings and injuries (in the war-zone),” Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told reporters here.

The minister denied charges that government forces were firing heavy weapons into the demarcated “safe zone” for civilians and complained that the unilateral statement by the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, Navi Pillay, was made without consulting and accommodating the position of Colombo.

“Our armed forces have never targeted civilians and will never target civilians,” he said.

Issuing a strong statement in Geneva, Pillay said that despite the government’s designation of safe zones or no-fire zones for civilians, “repeated shelling has continued inside those zones”.

“A range of credible sources have indicated that more than 2,800 civilians may have been killed and more than 7,000 injured since Jan 20, many of them inside the no-fire zones. The casualties are believed to include hundreds of children killed and more than a thousand injured,” Pillay said in the statement.

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