Madhu victims’ bodies recovered
[TamilNet, Monday, 22 November 1999, 00:28 GMT]
The bodies of 37 civilians who were killed at the Madhu Church Saturday night were brought to the Mannar hospital Sunday evening around 6 p.m., said sources. The Mannar Magistrate, Mr.Ilancheliyan, inspected the bodies at the hospital, they said.
The bodies will be handed over to the relatives Monday after an inquest is held, the Magistrate said. He further ordered the police to provide escort to transport them to Madhu.
Sources said the Magistrate and a team of officials were on their way to visit the site on Sunday, but a Sri Lanka Army (SLA) unit at Piramanalankulam had had told them that they (SLA) had left the Madhu area and not to go there.
However, the officials persisted and the Mannar Bishop Ret.Rev.Rayappu Joseph and District Medical Officer, Dr.Kathirkamanathan, who accompanied the Magistrate went to Madhu and brought the bodies to the hospital, the sources added.
The Officer in Charge of the Mannar Police also went with magistrate.
According to the Bishop the SLA is now not present in the holy precincts of Madhu, the sources said.
The civilians were killed when shells hit the revered Catholic shrine at Madhu.
The SLA blames the LTTE. Wounded survivors and aid workers blamed retreating SLA tanks.
Meanwhile the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva issued a statement Sunday, expressing deep shock over the killings of 37 civilians at Madhu church and has called on the warring parties to spare civilians and places of worship.
The text of the statement says:
" On 20 November fighting between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam left 37 civilians dead and 56 others wounded. Thirteen children were among the dead.”
“The victims had taken refuge in the compund of a Roman Catholic church in Madhu, between Mannar and Vavuniya in the northof the island.”
“The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), deeply shocked by this event, has once again called on the warring parties to spare civilians and places of worship”
“Since the upsurge in fighting at the beginning of November, the ICRC has repeatedly reminded the parties to the conflict of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law.”
“It urgently appeals to the parties to take the necessary measures at all times to prevent casualties among the civilian population during military operations.”