61 children killed in Sri Lankan raid, says LTTE
The Sri Lankan government has dismissed the allegation saying that the Tiger report is a 'total fabrication', writes PK Balachandran.india Updated: Aug 15, 2006 10:51 IST
The LTTE has alleged that 61 Tamil school girls were killed, and 155 were wounded, when the Sri Lankan Air Force bombed an orphanage called Chencholai in the northern district of Mullaitivu on Monday.
But the Sri Lankan government said that the report put out by the pro-LTTE website "Tamilnet" was a "total fabrication".
The Military Spokesman of the LTTE, Rasaiah Ilanthirayan, said over the phone from Kilinochchi, that the LTTE-run Chencholai, located at Vallipuram on the Paranthan-Mullaitivu road, had been bombarded from the air Monday morning.
"The children are in the age group 16-17. Many have lost their limbs. It is a sight you cannot bear to see," Ilanthirayan said.
The LTTE said that the Sri Lankan Air Force dropped 16 bombs on the school.
The Nordic truce monitors went to the site during the day, and reported seeing 19 bodies.
"There could be more as some of the bodies might have been removed," said the monitors' spokesman, Thorfinnur Omrasson.
Asked if he thought that it was due to aerial bombing, he said: "yes".
UNICEF, which has a project in Mullaitivu, quoted the government hospital at Kilinochchi as saying that over 100 injured children had been admitted.
A UNICEF spokesperson in Colombo told Hindustan Times that as per information available, a first aid class being conducted by the St John's Ambulance Brigade, was hit in aerial bombardment.
Later, the UNICF visited the spot.
Total fabrication says Govt
But the government's Defence Spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwela, maintained that the LTTE's allegation was a "total fabrication" meant to gain world sympathy at a time that it was getting beaten in the operations in Jaffna.
"The LTTE is now producing exciting tele-dramas. They should migrate to Mumbai to produce Hindi films," Rambukwela said.
The Air Force Spokesman Gr Capt Ajantha Silva said that he would not be able to give the locations bombed, but bombing was going on.
Denying that school kids were bombed, he said: "The Air Force takes only identified LTTE targets, not civilians."
As regards the current military situation, the government Defence Spokesman, said that "heavy fighting" was going on only in Muhamalai in Jaffna peninsula.
He maintained Kayts island, off the Jaffna coastline, had been cleared of the LTTE intruders.
The LTTE claimed that its fighters were holding on to Muhamalai, repulsing a counter attack made by the Sri Lankan Army's 53 Division with air mobile, commando and tank units.
In the fighting on Sunday, both the LTTE and the government forces had lost heavily, according to reports.
The government said that it had killed 200 to 300 LTTE cadres and the LTTE said that it had killed government 250 soldiers.
Govt asks LTTE child soldiers to surrender
In a move to unearth the LTTE's child soldiers thought to be hiding in the Jaffna peninsula, the army on Sunday asked parents to surrender them to the nearest police or army post.
The army said that the children would be looked after and rehabilitated.
In the operations in Mutur in the Eastern district of Trincomalee, it was discovered that many in the LTTE's combat units were young boys and girls.
As a young Muslim refugee said: " We were surprised to find that many of the LTTE cadres were boys who had been playing with us!"