Sri Lanka bars Swedish minister as war goes on

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The Independent Online

The United Nations told Sri Lanka yesterday it was concerned about casualties among civilians trapped with rebels, and the European Union criticised Colombo for excluding a Swedish minister from an EU mission.

Sweden recalled its ambassador to Sri Lanka after its Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was barred from participating in a mission there with French and British colleagues this week. Karel Schwarzenberg, the Czech foreign minister representing the Czech EU presidency, said the Sri Lanka move was "a grave mistake" The mission's aim is to press EU calls for a humanitarian ceasefire in the war between the government and Tamil Tiger (LTTE) rebels.

The army said yesterday it had recovered the bodies of 28 rebels killed the previous day. John Holmes, the UN's humanitarian chief, expressed the body's concern over civilians trapped in the last pocket of LTTE resistance to government forces. Mr Holmes emphasised "great concern at initial reports of continued shelling".

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