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Red Cross office attacked

The office of the International Committee of the Red Cross was attacked by a large group of people today afternoon, reports Sutirtho Patranobis.

world Updated: Feb 06, 2009 19:48 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The office of the International Committee of the Red Cross was attacked by a large group of people on Friday afternoon.

The group gathered in front of the head office of the aid agency shouting slogans and hurling stones and accusations that ICRC was supporting the LTTE. Though the office is located in a high-security area, the guards were caught unawares as the mob attempted to force their way into the compound.

Several glass window panes were smashed. None of the ICRC employees were injured. The local police were informed and subsequently extra policemen were deployed around the complex.

The attack comes soon after an anti-ICRC statement made by Wimal Weerawansa the leader of a radical Marxist party, National Freedom Front. Weerawansa called on a government to deport ICRC chief Paul Castella from Colombo stating that he is backing the LTTE by making bogus statements on the civilian's situation in North. Both the ICRC and the UN have come under criticism from the government and political parties for being critical about the treatment of refugees.

In the last few weeks, the ICRC has released reports on the plight of the thousands of displaced in the conflict in the north who were facing severe shortage of food and medicine.

It remains the only aid agency working in the theatre of battle. The ICRC also has the mandate to enable people, ambulances, food convoys and other vehicles to cross at Omanthai, the only exchange point between the LTTE and the government. It facilitates the return of bodies of fighters from both sides to their families.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan army (SLA) soldiers of the 57 Division on Thursday took control of the base where LTTE chief V Prabhakaran's personal security regiment, Radha regiment, trained and maintained their base.

``The 'Radha regiment' was led by a senior LTTE cadre identified as Rathnam. Its main task was to provide personal security to the terror chief Prabhakaran and also included air defence and internal intelligence gathering,'' the defence ministry said, adding the army also seized a large cache of weapons.

In another development, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that the ``current military operations to defeat terrorism in Sri Lanka would be carried out without harassment to the civilian population in the north.''

The UN chief had telephoned Rajapaksa late on Thursday night from New Delhi to enquire about the plight of the thousands rapped in war zone.