Ban appalled at killing of civilians in strife-torn Lanka

  • PTI, United Nations
  • Updated: May 12, 2009 09:01 IST

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said he was appalled at the killing of hundreds of Sri Lankan civilians caught in the middle of hostilities between the army and the LTTE over the weekend.

The raging conflict in the north between Government forces and the rebels has claimed thousands of lives in the past several months, Ban said in a statement.

Voicing "deep concern" over the continued use of heavy weapons in the conflict zone, a shrinking pocket of land on the northern coastline, he stressed that the "reckless disrespect shown by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for the safety of civilians has led to thousands of people remaining trapped in the area."

Ban pressed both sides, in the strongest terms possible, to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law, reminding them that the world is watching events in Sri Lanka closely.

He said that the LTTE must allow the remaining civilians in the conflict zone -– estimated by the UN to be over 50,000 -– to leave immediately, and urged the Government to bring the conflict to an end "without further bloodshed." More

The Secretary General stressed that the terms for halting the military offensive must be made public and the LTTE must "give sober and positive consideration of those terms."

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCGA) said yesterday that 900 civilians reportedly escaped from the conflict zone in Mullaitivu and most have reached Omanthai. So far, over 196,000 people have crossed over to the government-controlled areas from the conflict zone.

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