Civilian casualties mount as intense bombing and shelling continues

[TamilNet, Sunday, 15 March 2009, 01:45 GMT]
69 civilians were killed, including 19 children, and scores wounded within the safe zone in Sri Lanka Army (SLA) shelling and Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) bombardments Saturday in Mullaiththeevu. The SLAF bombers have been attacking the zone continuously for the 5th day, despite the call from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa that the SLA "should not fire into the civilian areas of the conflict zone."

A video clipping of a wounded child who lost his father while inside a bunker narrating the carnage is annexed in this story for record purposes despite its strong content, because Colombo government denies all attack inside safe zone and even condemns the UN and other humanitarian agencies for bringing in accusations based on what it describes as 'pro-rebel proxy websites'.

SLAF bombers attacked twice safe zone near Maaththa'lan lagoon, around 8:00 a.m. and later around 11:30 p.m.

29 civilians were killed in Maaththa'lan where the makeshift-hospital is located. The shelling was reported also close to the hospital. The remaining were killed in Mu'l'li-vaaykkaal and Iraddai-vaaykkaal in the safe zone.

As the hospital area was especially targeted by the SLA shelling and long distance gunfire, civilian access to hospital became seriously afflicted. A mother was killed in long-distance gunfire that reached Maaththa'lan junction. Two men, a young boy and a father were also reported in killed hit by rounds inside the safe zone. The gunfire by the SLA had come 3 km away from the safe zone.

Meanwhle, the only operation theatre and the outpatient's section of the hospital in Maaththa'lan couldn't function Saturday as it has gone empty of all medicines. Doctors and the medical staff present at the hospital were helpless.

As even bandages and pads needed for the first aid of fractures were not available, the patients were seen applying old cloths for bandaging and Palmyra palm pads (panai maddai) to support fractures.

A couple of days ago, the hospital authorities complained of non-availability of bags needed for blood donated to the blood bank.

The long awaited ICRC ship transporting seriously injured civilians arrived only on Saturday. 420 wounded were transferred from the hospital while 600 - 800 more seriously wounded are still awaiting for transport.

An ICRC representative who came in the ship was taken to the hospital to see the conditions.


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