The Sri Lankan Muslim Congress (SLMC), the island's premier Muslim political party, has blamed the Sri Lankan government primarily, for the shelling of the Muslim town of Mutur which has killed more than 30 civilians in the past three days.
"We may seem to be making an anti-government statement. But we have to go by what the local people tell us, and they say, that most of the shells had come from the direction of the army camps in the vicinity," the Leader of the SLMC, Rauff Hakeem, told newspersons here on Friday.
He said that he had brought this to the notice of the Sri Lankan top brass, Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa and the Deputy Chief of the Defense Staff, Air Vice Marshal Donald Perera, at a meeting at the Presidential Secretariat on Thursday.
"They promised to stop the shelling. But the promise was not kept," Hakeem said.
"This morning, refugees who had fled the town, were shelled by the army at the 64th. Mile Post on the road to Kantalay, killing five of them," Hakeem said.
The refugees were being checked by the LTTE at one of its checkpoints there at the time of the incident.
Hakeem said that a humanitarian crisis was looming large in Mutur and its surroundings, and at least, a section of the people (mostly Muslims) were fleeing the town "voluntarily."
"We appeal to both the parties, the government and the LTTE, to cease hostilities immediately and allow humanitarian relief to move into the affected area," Hakeem said.
Govt shells refugees
On Thursday, the SLMC contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to get the LTTE to allow the movement of relief supplies, and the LTTE gave the green signal.
But the movement of supplies was being hindered by the Security Forces, Hakeem charged.
"A convoy of ICRC buses and ambulances was not allowed to proceed beyond Kantalai today. I don't have to say more," the Muslim leader said.
The SLMC has appealed to the co-chairs of the Tokyo Donors' conference (who are the "international community" in Sri Lanka) to meet urgently and put diplomatic pressure on the Sri Lankan government as well as the LTTE to stop the hostilities and allow movement of relief supplies.
The Co-chairs are US, EU, Norway and Japan.
The SLMC has sent a memorandum to the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), now meeting in Kuala Lumpur, asking it to pressurize Colombo to stop the fighting, and also to provide relief to the suffering Muslims.
The SLMC met the Indian High Commissioner Nirupama Rao on Friday, and was planning to meet the heads of other diplomatic missions to put pressure on the two warring parties to stop the fighting.