Sri Lanka: Right to life of civilians disregarded as conflict intensifies

As yet another bomb exploded in Sri Lanka killing 12 civilians and wounding 17 others today, Amnesty International condemned the targeting of civilians by the LTTE. 

Today’s bomb in a bus in Welioya, 120 miles north of Colombo, is the latest in a long line of attacks that have targeted and killed civilians. On Sunday at least 11 people were killed in a suicide attack at the main railway station in Colombo, while on Friday a bomb on a bus killed 20 people, mostly Buddhist pilgrims, en-route to Anuradhapura.

On 29 January, a claymore mine attack on a bus in Mannar District killed 11 schoolchildren. The bus was close to Madhu Church, in an area the Bishop of Mannar had urged to be respected as a “no war” zone. Both sides blamed each other for the attack. In the absence of independent monitors, it is impossible to verify or refute these claims.

Amnesty International has expressed alarm that, as government forces prepare to launch major offensives against the LTTE in the North, a pattern of indiscriminate attacks by the Sri Lankan army will intensify and contribute further to spiralling civilian casualties.

“Both the Sri Lanka government and the LTTE are failing to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and are killing civilians on an increasingly regular basis. With no perpetrators brought to justice a climate of impunity is becoming entrenched: unless these patterns are reversed the future appears  bleak” said Tim Parritt, deputy programme director for Asia-Pacific.