UN calls Sri Lanka attack a 'bloodbath'

The United Nations said a weekend attack in Sri Lanka that killed hundreds was the bloodbath it had feared, while the Tamil Tigers and government traded blame ahead of UN Security Council talks over the war.

In the latest reported assault on civilians trapped in the war zone, at least hundreds of people were reported killed on Sunday in an artillery barrage that struck the less than 5 square km the separatist rebels control.

"We've been consistently warning against a bloodbath, and the large-scale killing of civilians including more than 100 children this weekend appears to show that the bloodbath has become a reality," UN spokesman Gordon Weiss said.

The rebels blamed the government, which in turn said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had fired on the people it has been holding hostage for months in a last-minute move to secure international pressure for a truce to stave off defeat.

Getting a clear picture of events in the war zone is next to impossible, as it is generally closed to outsiders and those within it are not fully independent of pressure that is often applied at gunpoint.

Diplomats and officials said the UN Security Council was due to have another informal meeting over Sri Lanka today in New York with the foreign ministers of Britain and France, who had a stormy visit to Sri Lanka at the end of April, both due to attend.

The council is split over whether to elevate discussion over Sri Lanka's war to a formal level where it could act. The United States and Britain are pushing to get a ceasefire, while Russia and China have opposed that.

Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa said the LTTE timed the attack to come just before the UN Security Council meeting, the daily newspaper The Island quoted him as saying.



INDIAN POLL PRESSURE

The LTTE has called for a truce and external intervention as the military has cornered its fighters in a tiny strip of coastline. Sri Lanka has ruled out any truce, saying it would allow the Tigers another chance to rearm as it has in the past.

The United Nations has for months urged restraint, and the UN human rights commissioner has warned both could possibly be blamed for war crimes. Both sides deny the allegations.

Pro-rebel web site www.TamilNet.com on Monday reported that more than 3,200 people had been killed, quoting the head of an LTTE-controlled aid group, the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation.

The attack prompted thousands of Tamils in Canada to block a major highway in protests.

TamilNet said at least 1,200 bodies had been counted, and said "political circles in Colombo" blamed India.

"The large scale slaughter is believed to be a result of India prodding Colombo to finish the war before the change of government," TamilNet said.

Sri Lanka's war is an election issue in the Tamil-majority state of Tamil Nadu, where India's ruling Congress party is keen to maintain power at a poll on Wednesday as politicians there push for a separate state for Sri Lanka's Tamils.

The LTTE has been fighting an all-out civil war since 1983 to create a separate state in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, and has blamed India's current ruling coalition for siding with Colombo.

Already, LTTE backers in India have attacked army convoys, and the LTTE has warned defeat in Sri Lanka would spell trouble for regional stability -- a thinly veiled threat to India.

India lists the LTTE as a terrorist group, along with the United States, European Union and Canada, and Congress has had to walk a delicate line ahead of national polls by saying it sides with Tamil grievances but views the LTTE as a security threat.

Meanwhile, troops killed an LTTE military spokesman, Rasiah Punitharooban alias Ilanthirayan or Marshall, in fighting on Sunday, said defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella, also a government minister.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there