Feature Article

Vanni civilians under deadly siege

[TamilNet, Sunday, 18 January 2009, 17:50 GMT]
"There are no words to describe the plight of the civilians who say that they prefer to face death on the spot rather than succumbing to serious injuries or ending up in the hands of the invading Sri Lankan forces, which many of them regard as genocidal military and fear that their young men and women would be 'filtered' away, tortured or killed by it," reports TamilNet correspondent from an outskirt of Puthukkudiyiruppu (PTK) Sunday evening amid artillery fire.

The indiscriminate fire was targeting areas where there were no hostile military activities. The fighting was going on in a few corners, but the artillery barrage by the Sri Lankan forces was targeting all the areas, threatening to cause civilian carnage, completely ignored by the International Community.

As nearly all of the civilians are displaced, they are unable to conduct proper funeral with rites. There are dead bodies un-attended due to artillery siege, only some of those killed are buried hurriedly before the remaining have to choose fleeing onwards from the onslaught of the indiscriminate shelling.

Ambulance drivers said they spotted at least 10 dead bodies on Sunday. Six of the bodies were transported to hospital mortuary until 3:00 p.m. But, there were reports of more bodies lying in areas un-accessible by the ambulances. The casualties were reported in Va'l'luvarpuram (Redd Barna settlement), Mayilvaakanapuram (2 dead bodies recovered), Thearaavil and Maa'nikkapuram. 12th Mile Post in Visvuvamadu, Punnaineeraavi and areas close to Chu'ndikku'lam, which have come under continuous artillery barrage.

At least 18 civilians were killed within the last 24 hours and 42, including many children, women and elderly, wounded in the indiscriminate artillery barrage by the SLA, according to available data from the medical sources, as reported earlier.

But, many more are feared dead, wounded and trapped in areas not accessible for medical assistance.

On Saturday, the premises of Punnaineeraavi school, one of the few remaining localities where Ki'linochchi hospital is functioning, came under artillery barrage. All treatment at the hospital stalled and there was no medical transport available to approach the injured. Civilians were screaming and running in all directions, confused and shocked by the indiscriminate bombardment.

Medical authorities said they had repeatedly urged protection for medical installations and provided coordinates through the ICRC.

Two civilians were killed and six wounded while they were fleeing from their house in Punnaineeraavi, while the hospital was under artillery barrage on Saturday. Three of the wounded, with serious injuries, had to wait for hours for medical assistance.

Many of the wounded civilians were only managing with the first aid knowledge that they now possess.

At Piramanthanaa'ru, at least two civilians were killed when their tractor, hit by artillery shelling got fire and burnt down on the spot on Saturday. Also on previous day, the shelling by the SLA killed 3 civilians who were fleeing with their belongings on Piramanthanaa'ru - Visuvamadu Road.

"Deaths by artillery shells have become all too common."


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