|Govt. says tigers now fighting in civilian garb|
|Wednesday, 21 January 2009|
By Jamila Najmuddin
The government said yesterday LTTE cadres were now fighting in civilian garb and therefore any claims of civilian casualties in LTTE areas should be looked at with caution.
It denied a recent foreign media report that 18 civilians had been killed during military confrontations in the north, and said the journalists had been misled into believing that the bodies were those of civilians as most cadres fought in the guise of civilians.
“I am sure these bodies are those of LTTE cadres killed during military operations. There are certain parties trying to tarnish the image of the government by claiming the bodies were those of civilians. No civilian has been killed in confrontations up-to-date,” Health Ministry secretary Dr. Athula Kahandaliyanage told media briefing.
However journalists from this particular international media organization who were present at the news briefing maintained that the casualty figures quoted in the article were released by government doctors working in LTTE-controlled areas, raising a question whether the doctors had misled the media.
Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarsinghe responded with the comment that the doctors themselves might not have been aware that LTTE cadres were fighting in the guise of civilians.
The government also denied a recent ICRC report that since January 9 no safe passage had been arranged for transporting patients and health staff and said civilians were allowed free movement between Vavuniya and uncleared areas daily.
“We have allowed free access for civilians and health staff to travel. There is an ambulance which travels daily to Vavuniya from LTTE-controlled areas. The ICRC report is misleading,” Minister Samarasinghe, said.
He charged that civilians living in LTTE-controlled areas were warned against fleeing into Vavuniya as most of them could be used as human shields.
The government also expressed disappointment at the ICRC failing to obtain the release of injured soldiers who were being treated at LTTE Hospitals.
Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse urged the ICRC to obtain the release of the soldiers and have them transferred to Vavuniya where they could be admitted to a government hospital.
“We are disappointed that the ICRC did not act with any urgency to bring the injured soldiers to Vavuniya. The ICRC should fulfil its duties and must not wait till the government approaches it,” Minister Samarasinghe said.
He said during the past month no shortage of medicines and food had been reported from the north and seriously ill patients were transferred to the Vavuniya Hospital where medical facilities were upgraded.
Infants among victims: TNA
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) yesterday expressed serious concern at the number of civilians being killed and injured in military confrontations in the north.
TNA parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran alleged that many civilians, including children and infants had been killed or injured in confrontations during the past few weeks and denied government claims that LTTE cadres were fighting in civilian clothing.
“Infants and children cannot be part of the fighters so it is clear civilians are dying. On an average, five civilians are wounded everyday from aerial bombardment and multi barrel rocket fire by security forces,” Mr. Premachandran charged.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 14 August 2009 )|
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