3RD LEAD (CORRECTION, UPDATE)
Hospital bombed, 5 killed, 15 wounded
[TamilNet, Thursday, 22 January 2009, 08:56 GMT]
The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the surgical site of the Mullaiththeevu hospital, functioning as a makeshift hospital at Va'l'lipunam school, were damaged in Sri Lanka Army (SLA) artillery fire Wednesday night and Thursday around 12:20 p.m., after the Sri Lankan government declared that the area where the hospital is situated is a "secure zone", medical authorities at the hospital said Thursday. Five civilians were killed within the hospital premises Thursday, according to Dr. T. Varatharajah, the Regional Director of Health Services (RDHS). The RDHS confirmed that the ICRC had verified that the Sri Lankan military had received the GPS coordinates of the hospital and said he was in constant touch with the ICRC, located just 1 km away from the hospital.
Meanwhile, TamilNet correspondent who visited the hospital after the attack, witnessing the situation said that the medical facility which was serving scores of wounded civilians was rendered completely out of function following the attack and that he witnessed one of the worst inhuman scenes at the 'Peace Village,' which has been the village of one of the most cruel civilian casualties of Sri Lanka's so-called 'War on Terrorism'.
The hospital resumed its activities as ICRC visited the site again.
The RDHS confirmed to TamilNet that two shells exploded inside the hostel of the hospital at 12:20 p.m. The ICU and Surgical Units were attacked Wednesday night, he said.
There are several dead bodies on the sides of the road and under the trees of the hospital, TamilNet correspondent said. All the medical staff and the patients who managed to move themselves sought refuge in the bunkers and continued to remain there as shells exploded.
53 school girls were killed in the old Chegnchoalai premises, which came under Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) bombardment on 14 August 2006.
Despite repeated calls from the medical authorities, placed through the ICRC, there has been no improvement in Sri Lankan forces conduct on attacks against the hospital in recent months.
Article 18 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that the civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.
Sri Lanka (Ceylon) is a signatory to the First, Second and Third Geneva Conventions and it ratified the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, by accession to it, on 23.02.1959.
15.08.07 53 School girls killed in 2006 SLAF bombing, remembered
14.08.06 Bombed site ‘not military installation’ - SLMM
14.08.06 61 schoolgirls killed, 129 wounded in airstrike