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Sri Lanka: UN humanitarian chief condemns attacks on civilians

Sri Lanka: UN humanitarian chief condemns attacks on civilians

John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
The United Nations’ top humanitarian official today condemned the continuing targeting of civilians during fighting in Sri Lanka, saying that more than 200 civilian lives have been lost in the country since the beginning of the year.

“The targeting of non-combatants is a contravention of international humanitarian law, for which those responsible must be held accountable,” Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said. “This despicable behaviour must stop,” he added.

Attacks have targeted mass transport facilities and busy public areas in both Sri Lanka’s conflict areas and population centres. This week alone, more than 20 civilians were killed and several dozens injured in different violent incidents.

The attacks include the firing of artillery shells into a populated area in the Jaffna peninsula early on Wednesday, which left six civilians dead and a dozen or more injured.

On Monday, nine people died and 73 were injured when a bomb exploded on a busy commuter train in Dehiwela, a suburb of the capital Colombo.

Last weekend, two other bombs were discovered and defused before they exploded, and three days earlier a roadside bomb killed 17 civilians on a main road used to access displaced populations in the Kilinochchi district.

Earlier this year the Government ended a 2002 ceasefire agreement with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Fighting between Government forces and the LTTE has recently intensified in the north of the country.