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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 August 2006, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Monitors' statement on Sri Lanka killings
Following is the full text of the statement from Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) head Ulf Henricsson on recent attacks in which civilians have been killed.

I. ASSASSINATION OF 17 CIVILIAN AID WORKERS IN MUTTUR ON 4 AUGUST 2006

Noting the facts outlined in the SLMM findings there are very strong indications of the involvement of the security forces in the act despite their denial. Firstly, the SLMM cannot find the reasons for the restrictions of movements into the said areas especially in above-mentioned circumstances acceptable, thereby strongly indicating the GoSL's [government of Sri Lanka's] eagerness to conceal the matter from the SLMM.

Taking into consideration the fact that the security forces had been present in Muttur at the time of the incident it appears highly unlikely to blame other groups for the killing. Provided that was the case it would in particular be illogical for the security forces to prevent the SLMM from entering the area and making proper inquiries in order to find the perpetrator(s).

The head of SLMM has also had confidential conversations with highly reliable sources regarding the party who most likely has been responsible for the act. The views have not proved contradictory and the security forces of Sri Lanka are widely and consistently deemed to be responsible for the incident.

Concluding with the supporting information arisen from the persons interviewed and the conversations with the representatives of the international community the SLMM is, with the obtained findings, convinced that there cannot be any other armed groups than the security forces who could actually have been behind the act.

Consequently, the killing of the 17 civilian aid workers in Muttur on 4 August 2006 is ruled as a gross violation of the CFA [ceasefire accord] by the security forces of Sri Lanka.

The committed act of assassination has approved to be one of the most serious recent crimes against humanitarian aid workers worldwide and has been strongly condemned internationally. I urge the GoSL to take all necessary actions to immediately stop any kind of violence against the civilians of Sri Lanka and to do its utmost that the matter is thoroughly investigated by the Sri Lankan authorities.

II. CLAYMORE MINE ATTACKS CONDUCTED BY THE GOSL IN LTTE-CONTROLLED AREAS BETWEEN 1 APRIL AND 15 JUNE 2006.

SLMM findings and internal analysis of both individual claymore mine attacks, as well as of the pattern arising from the same show that deliberate, planned and co-ordinated offensive military operations were conducted between 1 April and 15 June 2006 in LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam]-controlled areas to execute these claymore mine attacks. SLMM findings have also verified two attempted claymore mine attacks carried out by the GoSL security force's special units in LTTE-controlled area on 13 and 15 June 2006. Two SLA [Sri Lankan Army] soldiers from the special units were killed by the LTTE in an exchange of fire and subsequently transported to GoSL area under the convey of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The aforementioned claymore mine attacks were carried out using a high level of military expertise with regards to planning, co-ordination and execution. The attacks required very good knowledge of the specific area, excellent intelligence skills along with the capability and skills of deploying and handling such weapons professionally. Moreover, it is clear that the units/groups executed these attacks with the possibility to escape into GoSL-controlled areas where safe exit/entry points, logistic and other assistance must have been provided by the security forces and/or GoSL/police units deployed along the Forward Defence Line (FLD). Based on the verified activities of the SLA special unit soldiers in LTTE-controlled areas there are firm indications of the involvement of the SLA in such attacks.

Both under the clauses of the CFA, international human rights law as well as treaty-based and customary international humanitarian laws, it is absolutely forbidden to deliberately attack civilians or without due care for civilian lives and property carry out attacks against an adversary in an armed conflict. Also all places of worship are protected under the CFA and international humanitarian laws and all parties to the CFA should refrain from using or execute attacks at places of worship such as the Madhu area, including such roads leading to and from the shrine.

Despite the binding laws and regulations it is particularly serious to notice that a) the vast majority of the attacks have been directed or resulted in death and serious injuries to civilians; b) seven of the attacks/detonations using claymore mines have taken place in and around the area where the holy Madhu shrine is located.

Considering all the findings and assessed plausible motives SLMM is convinced that there can be no other than GoSL security forces or other armed elements with the support and assistance from the GoSL security forces who have been capable of having carried out these series of claymore mine attacks in the Mannar and Vavuniya districts during the relevant period indicated above. Therefore, the GoSL security forces, having the motive, capability and capacity to carry out such attacks against the LTTE in the north-east, bear the responsibility for killing and injuring the LTTE cadres and the civilians caught in the blast from these attacks.

Consequently, the executed and attempted attacks during the period 1 April - 15 June 2006 are part of a pattern of a deliberate strategy against LTTE cadres and civilians in LTTE-controlled areas in Mannar and Vavuniya districts by the GoSL security forces or by other armed elements with the substantial assistance and support from the GoSL security forces. These attacks are ruled as a gross violation of the CFA by the GoSL.

I urge both parties to the CFA to put an end to all forms of attacks, protect civilians lives and the Madhu shrine area as well as to investigate any reported killing of civilians executed by individuals or groups of the LTTE or the armed forces of Sri Lanka or affiliated armed group(s).

III. ATTACK ON A CIVILIAN BUS IN KEBITIGOLLEWA AREA ON 15 JUNE 2006

SLMM findings have shown that the attack on the civilian bus was carried out by using military expertise with regards to planning, co-ordination and execution. The attack required very good knowledge of the area and intelligence skills along with the capability and skills of deploying and handling such weapons professionally.

The LTTE has condemned the Kebitigollewa attack and denied their involvement in the incident expressing that another armed element, the Karuna group, has had a motive to execute the attack in order to discredit the LTTE. The SLMM does not find that plausible based on various grounds.

Based on SLMM inquiries and the well known modus operandi for the LTTE, the SLMM considers highly probable that there can be no other armed element than the LTTE and LTTE-affiliated forces that have had the motive to carry out the attack, in particular in GoSL controlled areas. Taking specifically into account the prevailing circumstances and obtained findings there are strong indications that the attack on Sinhalese civilians had been a deliberate retaliation for the recent killings of civilians and LTTE cadres in LTTE-controlled areas in the north and the east.

Both under the clauses of the CFA, international human rights law as well as treaty-based and customary international humanitarian laws it is absolutely forbidden to deliberately attack civilians or without due care for civilian lives and property carry out attacks against an adversary in an armed conflict.

Therefore, being the only element with the motive, capability and capacity to carry out the attack, the LTTE must bear the responsibility for the killing of civilians. Consequently, the attack on the civilian bus in Kebitigollewa on 15 June 2006 is ruled as a gross violation of the CFA by the LTTE.

Ulf Henricsson, head of SLMM.




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