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Sri Lankan suicide attack condemned by UN human rights chief

Sri Lankan suicide attack condemned by UN human rights chief

The United Nations’ top human rights official has deplored the suicide bombing last weekend at the start of a marathon in Sri Lanka that claimed the lives of at least 15 people, including a minister in the national Government.

Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, issued a statement yesterday in which she also extended her condolences to the families of the victims.

“Such violence shows a complete disregard for the right to life and security of Sri Lankans, and breaches the most fundamental principles of international law,” she said.

Last Sunday’s bombing killed Highways Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, the national athletics coach and a former top marathoner among others as they waited to see off runners in Weliweriya. It also injured dozens of athletes and onlookers.

Ms. Arbour said the attack is alleged to have been committed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which has been fighting a decades-long civil conflict with the Government. The rebel group is also accused of other recent attacks, including the bombings of public transport and other public places.

“I remind the LTTE and other armed groups that attacks which directly or indiscriminately target civilians are crimes under international law. Violent attacks on people taking no active part in hostilities are strictly prohibited.”

The High Commissioner noted that the violence also undermined efforts to develop “a meaningful dialogue on improving the situation” of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority.