SL Military had 'precise coordinates' of bombed peace zone
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 15 August 2006, 11:32 GMT]
The site bombed by Sri Lankan jets on Monday had been designated a humanitarian zone and the LTTE had passed its coordinates on to the military via the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, and the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), NGO sources said Tuesday.
The Sri Lankan military had been given precise coordinates of where ‘Peace village’ comprising the Senchcholai home hit by Monday’s airstrike and other humanitarian centres is located.
The GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) details were passed to the Sri Lankan military during the last period of conflict, before the 2002 ceasefire, as part of efforts to ensure protection of humanitarian spaces during conflict, NGO sources told TamilNet.
On Monday four Kfir jet bombers dropped 16 bombs directly on the children’s home, destroying several buildings and killing scores of teenagers and wounding 150 others.
The Sri Lankan government says it targeted an LTTE training camp, killing “50-60 terrorists” and Tuesday showed journalists what if claimed was footage.
But UNICEF chief in Colombo JoAnna VanGerpen told AFP Tuesday: "As of this time, we don't have any evidence that they are LTTE cadres."
"These were children from surrounding schools in the area who were brought there for a two-day training workshop on first aid, by whom we don't know yet," Ms. VanGerpen told AFP.
Sri Lankan officials had briefed some journalists claiming the Senchcholai home had a firing range and fortifications.
But the international monitors overseeing the 2002 truce disagreed.
“We couldn’t find any sign of military installations or weapons,” Head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), Ulf Henricsson said. “This was not a military installation, we can see [that from our visit]”
But the Sri Lankan government’s official spokesman, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, insisted the bombed site was a Tamil Tiger training camp.
He said the accusations that innocent schoolgirls had been killed "was purely a propaganda exercise [by the LTTE] to counter their defeats in the North and East."