2ND LEAD

31 civilians killed in SLA shelling, gunfire in 'safety zone'

[TamilNet, Sunday, 12 April 2009, 09:11 GMT]
At least 31 civilians were killed throughout the day on Sunday inside the 'safety zone'. Exact figure of wounded civilians was not known, but at least 36 injured were rushed to the makeshift hospital at Puthumaththa'lan Sunday morning as Sri Lanka Army (SLA) was embarked upon concerted attacks on the zone since the early hours of Sunday. 30 of the victims were wounded in shelling and 6 in gunfire, medical sources said. Two of the victims had succumbed to their injuries at hospital.

People who reach the hospital come under the gunfire-range of the SLA.

The makeshift hospital and the access route to it are located close to SLA positions.

Sporadic gunfire continued disturbing the wounded being taken to hospital, according to the latest reports from Maaththa'lan.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the SLA would continue "defensive" fighting.

Stating that he had instructed his armed forces to "restrict their operations during the New Year to those of a defensive nature," Mr. Rajapaksa said "it is timely for the LTTE to acknowledge its military defeat and lay down its weapons and surrender." There was no announcement of ceasefire as some news services interpreted Rajapaksa's message.


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