2ND LEAD (ADDS PHOTOS, VIDEO)

179 civilians including 76 children killed within 3 days inside 'safety zone'

[TamilNet, Saturday, 28 March 2009, 20:34 GMT]
Sri Lanka Army (SLA) attacks have claimed the lives of 179 civilians within the three days of Thursday, Friday and Saturday, according to the casualty figures collected by TamilNet correspondent in Vanni. At least 76 of the slain victims were children below the age of 15. At least 16 pregnant mothers were among the slain. More than 109 children below the age of 15 have sustained injuries. Around 45% of the thousands of shells fired by the SLA have hit the safety zone. Meanwhile, a foreign staff of the ICRC, who came in the ship on Saturday to transport the wounded civilian had a narrow escape when the ship was hit by long distance gunfire by the SLA damaging a window of the ship. On Friday, a local ICRC worker, P. Satheeskumar, was reportedly injured in SLA shelling.

Bullock cart ambulance
Wounded civilians are being brought to hospital in bullock cart by IDPs themselves.


The wife of another Red Cross (ICRC or SLRC) worker was reportedly killed on Friday.

The ICRC ship that arrived on Thursday and on Saturday to transfer the wounded patients from Maaththa'lan hospital managed to transport around 950 persons.

Five wounded patients being treated at the Intensive Care Unit of the makeshift hospital were killed Thursday morning when Rocket Propelled Grenades fired by the SLA hit the hospital.

A 7-month-old foetus was slain Friday when a 25-year-old pregnant mother, Paasamalr, sustained injuries in her lower abdomen.

A wounded mother with her injured child
A wounded female with an injured child at Puthumaaththa'lan hospital. The makeshift hospital Saturday released data documenting that it had received 104 children below age of 15 during Tuesday and Wednesday alone. Data for Thursday, Friday and Saturday is yet to be documented.
Civilians in Maaththa'lan and Pokka'nai had to stay inside the bunkers continuously for 13 hours from 10:00 p.m. Thursday till 11:00 a.m. Friday as SLA stepped up artillery, mortar and gunfire. Bullets were whizzing over the main road which links the various villages of the safety zone.

59 civilians were killed on Thursday, 63 including 21 children on Friday and 57 on Saturday.

At least 109 children below age 15 have sustained injuries. 31 of them were below 10 years of age.

9 of 16 slain pregnant mothers were in their final stage of pregnancy, according to medical sources. Most of the deaths of pregnant mothers have been reported in Pokka'nai and Maaththa'lan areas.

The SLA deployed cluster-fitted shells Thursday night to target IDP shelters between Valaignarmadam and Pokka'nai, and between Maaththa'lan and Pokka'nai during the day time of Friday.

498 persons were transferred from the hospital by the ICRC ship on Saturday and 443 on Thursday.

Two shells that hit a well between Pokka'nai and Maaththa'lan have claimed the lives of 10 IDPs who were washing their bodies.

An entire family of four members was wiped out Thursday in rocket fire that came from SLA positions across the lagoon. RPG fire targeted Pokka'nai - Maaththa'lan border.

A female village (GS) officer, Ajantha Abarajithan, was killed in Valaignarmadam Thursday.

There have also been air strikes carried out by the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) inside the safety zone.

Bullock cart ambulance
Wounded being brought to makeshift hospital in bullock carts
Pokka'nai area
Densely populated Pokka'nai area where many IDPs including children and pregnant mothers have been killed and wounded in SLA shelling


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