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45 Tamils killed in Lanka firing: LTTE

The Tamil rebels say among the dead are six babies less than six months old, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2006 19:04 IST

At least 45 Tamil refugees were feared killed when the Sri Lankan Army shelled a school in which they were housed at Kathiraveli in the Batticaloa district of Eastern Sri Lanka on Wednesday, the LTTE said.

Among the dead were six babies less than 6 months old, according to the pro-LTTE Tamilnet website.

But the Sri Lankan government maintained that the targets taken were "precise gun positions" identified through radar, and accused the LTTE of using civilians as a shield.

"An indiscriminate artillery and Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher onslaught went on for 30 minutes on the Kathirveli Vigneswara Maha Vidyalayam killing and wounding innocent Internally Displaced Persons," the Tamilnet website said quoting an aid worker, M Raj.

The school, located in a densely populated area, had about 5,000 refugees. Many of them had come from Paalchenai, which had been subjected to shelling earlier.

Patients in the nearby Vaharai hospital fled when they heard about the shelling of the Kathirveli school.

The LTTE accused the government of blocking the entry of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (IICRC) into the Vaharai area, even after they had been informed of the attack on the school.

This is the second school in the North East to be shelled. Some time back, a school in Mullaitvu district was bombed by the Air Force killing 60 high school kids undergoing First Aid training.

The Air Force said that it was a camp to train child soldiers.

LTTE using human shield: Govt

But the government denied that the Army had fired indiscriminately.

It maintained that the targets were "précise gun positions" which had been observed through local radar.

The National Security website accused the LTTE of using Tamil civilians as "human shields" and said that this had been revealed by the 583 civilians who had fled LTTE-controlled areas recently.

The refugees had told the Army that the LTTE was holding 30,000 civilians with an intention to use them as a human shield.

First Published: Nov 08, 2006 18:21 IST