3RD LEAD (PHOTOS ADDED)

SLA shelling targets humanitarian supplies in 'safe zone'

[TamilNet, Friday, 13 March 2009, 02:29 GMT]
A pregnant mother delivered dead twins Thursday and her husband was wounded when Sri Lanka Army fired bullets reached their hut in Maaththa'lan, across the lagoon. Meanwhlie, SLA-fired shells hit the ground 300 meters away from the spot where the humanitarian supplies were being unloaded. Five civilians were killed and 20 sustained injuries in the attack that occurred around 8:20 a.m. Later in the evening, another shell attack targeted the ground where the supplies were being stored. 62 civilians were killed and more than 129 wounded throughout the day and the night inside the safe zone.

Food distribution place in Maaththa'lan
Food distribution place, which was targeted by SLA shelling


The attacks have taken place as a surveillance aircraft of the Sri Lanka Air Force was continuously engaged in monitoring the area.

The ICRC officials who were in a boat on their way towards the coast had to return to the ship as shelling targeted the coastal stretch in the morning. The ship was later moved to mid-sea.

Although the weather conditions have improved, the ICRC ship facilitating medical transport was yet to arrive. The makeshift-hospital was struggling to cope with the situation.

More than 40 civilians sustained injuries in Mu'l'livaaykkaal and Valaignarmadam.

Shop burning after shell attack
One of the shops in Maaththa'lan, burning after shell attack


Some shops at Maaththa'lan junction were seen burning in the evening after SLA shelling targeted the area.

Two SLAF bomber jets were also continuously engaged in bombardment in areas close to safe zone. The bombers carried out four bombing missions, dropping 32 bombs throughout the day from the morning till evening 3:45 p.m.

Medical sources in the makeshift-hospital said pregnant mothers who lack nutritious food face and continuous trauma in addition to the physical stress are having a difficult time, especially after the mini-cyclone hitting the safe zone this week.


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