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Terrorism & Security

Sri Lanka accused of shelling civilians

At least 378 died in an overnight bombardment, a government doctor said. The military denies the attack.

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While the government of Sri Lanka continues to deride reports of the weekend attack as false "propaganda," they've also come out denying reports released earlier this month that they attacked hospitals in the safe zone. A Human Rights Watch report released on Friday accused the government of bombing at least 30 permanent or temporary hospitals, but government officials say there were no hospitals in these locations, reports Al Jazeera International.

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"All of the people who are putting out these reports have gone wrong. ... The military conducted rescue operations. We used only small arms. There was no shelling of those areas.
"All those organisations ... have made a lot of allegations saying that the army bombed hospitals. But when we moved in, we proved that no [bombing] had taken place," said [Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, Sri Lanka's military spokesman].

As the war grinds on in Sri Lanka, Tamil communities around the world are leading mass protests to create awareness about the situation. In Britain, popular singer Mathangi Arulpragasam, better known as M.I.A., appealed to Oprah Winfrey to help her raise awareness, reports the Daily Mirror. Though she was born in Britain, the singer is of Tamil origin. In Canada, home to a large Tamil population, thousands of people marched on Saturday calling for a cease-fire, reports The Toronto Sun.

In Sri Lanka, however, there is frustration with the international community, which some say is overly critical of their government's effort. An editorial in Sri Lanka's Sunday Observer questions the validity of international intervention in their conflict.

For some unseen or strange reason, some of those who are interested and concerned about us do not appreciate the positive aspects and the success story of the completion of the 30-year war in three years with minimum casualties with utmost professionalism. These are the forgotten factors of the series of events. It is the last lap of the Humanitarian Military Operation and the trapped LTTE needs a lifeline to rearm and regroup as has been done in many previous occasions.

This weekend, the Sri Lankan government also made clear its firm ban on media coverage when it deported three journalists from Britain's Channel 4 News for broadcasting footage shot inside a government-run camp where displaced people have taken refuge. The report showed alleged mistreatment of Tamil civilians in the camp.

Criticism about the conditions in which refugees are living has grown as more people escape the war zone, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

Critics say that the emergency shelters are becoming open-ended detention centers underwritten by foreign donors.
War-weary refugees are being separated from family members, then denied permission to leave the camps for security reasons. Food parcels have been tossed into hungry crowds, causing at least one deadly stampede. Aid workers warn of poor sanitation, child malnutrition, and inadequate health services.

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