Concerned over the escalation of violence in Sri Lanka, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has emphasised the "urgent need" to end the spiralling conflict and called on both sides to immediately return to the peace process.
"The Secretary-General is increasingly disturbed by the mounting loss of life in Sri Lanka's long-standing conflict. He deplores the many civilian casualties caused by the ongoing hostilities between Government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)," Annan's spokesman told reporters on Friady.
"He (Annan) emphasises the urgent need to bring an end to the spiral of violence. The bloodshed is making it ever more difficult to heal the deep divisions in the country. He calls on the parties to make every effort to return to the peace process as soon as possible," he added.
Annan's comments came after an army artillery bombardment on Wednesday hit a school sheltering 1,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), killing at least 23 people and wounding 135 others.
This attack prompted Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland to call on both sides to ensure the protection of civilians under all circumstances.
The scene of the bombardment is a narrow peninsula in eastern Sri Lanka controlled by the Tigers, hosting 30,000 IDPs who left their homes in Trincomalee province due to the fighting in August.