SLA shelling kills 22 civilians, wounds 60, targets humanitarian supply centre

[TamilNet, Sunday, 25 January 2009, 19:13 GMT]
Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has continued artillery shelling on densely populated 'safety zone,' in Chuthanthirapuram, Udaiyaarkaddu and Thearaavil in Visuvamadu throughout Sunday, at least twice attacking the vicinity of the supply centre, located at Chuthanthirapuram playground, the only centre in Vanni where humanitarian supplies brought in by the UN World Food Programme are distributed. Two shells exploded in the premises, killing five members of a single family of Mr. Jegatheeswaran, owner of a saloon displaced from Visuvamadu. Five more civilians, including children and women, were also killed. Body parts were scattered across the locality and not all of them could be identified, according to medical sources. At least 13 civilians were wounded at the site.

At least 22 civilians have been killed in various localities inside the 'safety zone' throughout Sunday. More than 60 civilians, including children and women, have been wounded in a number of artillery attacks from 2:45 a.m. till 9:15 p.m. Sunday, according to TamilNet correspondent in Vanni.

Heavy fighting was heard throughout Saturday night at distance in Mullaiththeevu town, which has been vacated by civilians.

But, without any provocation from densely populated civilian areas, the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) stepped up shelling on Chuthanthirapuram playground, where WFP humanitarian supplies are stockpiled for distribution to the civilian population. Officials responsible for food distribution were stationed at the centre and their vehicles were also parked in the playground.

As this report was being filed, a fresh attack was reported Sunday evening around 9:15 p.m. in front of the food supply centre where a Pi'l'laiyaar temple is located. Artillery shells exploded in the environs of the temple. At least 25 civilians were wounded and civilian volunteers were struggling to transport the wounded to hospital. It was not possible to gather a clear picture of the total casualties in the latest barrage.

Earlier in the day, 3 civilians were killed at Thirukkangkaadu near Thearaavil in Visuvamadu. 9 civilians were wounded.

Artillery shells exploded inside the 100-houses-scheme settlement at the centre of Chunthanthirapuram. 6 civilians were killed and 12 wounded in the colony Sunday noon.

The breakdown of the remaining casualties was not known.

"The message the Sri Lankan forces were passing to the civilians of Vanni, by repeated and unprovoked attacks, is that they should subjugate themselves by walking into the territories in the hands of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA)," commented the TamilNet correspondent. " People are not prepared to surrender themselves. They seem very concerned of the future course of the struggle and were concerned of their sons and daughters."

"The Sri Lankan military is testing the breaking point of the people."


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