Sri Lankans on hunger strike hospitalised in France
Two Sri Lankan Tamils on hunger strike were taken to hospital in Paris on Wednesday after some 400 people blocked traffic to protest against the killing of civilians in Sri Lanka's civil war, police said.world Updated: May 13, 2009 20:20 IST
Two Sri Lankan Tamils on hunger strike were taken to hospital in Paris on Wednesday after some 400 people blocked traffic to protest against the killing of civilians in Sri Lanka's civil war, police said.
The men had been on hunger strike for more than a month, lying in a tent in central Paris surrounded by round-the-clock rallies and speeches by expatriate Tamil protesters.
On Wednesday shelling killed a Red Cross worker inside the war zone while troops and the Tamil Tigers battled in an intensifying fight to the finish of Asia's longest modern war.
The rebels, cornered in a coastal strip with tens of thousands of civilians, accused the military for the third day of shelling a no-fire zone.
Some 6,500 civilians have been killed in the three months from the end of January, according to United Nations estimates, but there is no way of independently confirming the data.
An unconfirmed rumour of 2,000 additional deaths, circulating among Tamils in Paris, enraged protesters on Tuesday night and prompted them to block the streets around Place de la Republique, where they had been holding their month-long vigil.
A similar rumour triggered spontaneous protests in Paris in April, culminating in clashes between Tamils and police.
It is impossible to verify battlefield accounts, since the war is mostly off-limits to outsiders and both sides have distorted events since fighting began in 1983.
Demonstrations by expatriate Tamils around the world have been mostly peaceful, with protesters blocking roads and staging rallies in Paris, London and other capital cities.
France and other countries have urged Sri Lanka to implement a humanitarian ceasefire with Tamil Tiger rebels to allow tens of thousands of trapped civilians to escape the battle zone.