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Page last updated at 13:12 GMT, Saturday, 2 May 2009 14:12 UK

Hospital 'hit by Sri Lankan army'

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Sri Lankan military says it has not been using heavy weapons in the area

The Sri Lankan army has killed 91 people at a makeshift hospital inside a civilian safe zone in the last two days, two doctors have told the BBC.

The doctors said bombardments from the army had killed 64 people on Saturday, including patients, their relatives and bystanders in Mullivaikal.

About 87 people were injured. Another 27 people reportedly died on Friday.

The army has denied bombing the hospital, saying that Tamil Tiger rebels carried out suicide attacks.

An image from a doctor in Mullivaikal apparently showing damage to the makeshift hospital there
A doctor in Mullivaikal has sent images he says show shelling at the hospital

A spokesman for the Sri Lankan army said that although soldiers had heard explosions in the area, they had not fired any shells.

The army had not used heavy weapons for some days, he said, since the government announced on Monday that it was halting its use of heavy weapons in the conflict zone.

The army spokesman said Tamil Tiger rebels had launched eight suicide attacks in the space of two days.

A doctor working within the zone has e-mailed the BBC a number of photographs which, he says, show the aftermath of recent shelling at the hospital in Mullivaikal.

One image appears to show a father and son killed as they slept.

The hospital lies within a government-designated safe zone set up to protect civilians.

In contrast, the defence ministry has put on its website video clips which, it says, show the rebels moving an artillery piece through the zone they control, our correspondent says.

Journalists are not allowed near the conflict zone, so the conflicting accounts cannot be independently verified.

Trapped civilians

An image from a doctor in Mullivaikal apparently showing damage to the makeshift hospital there
The images sent by a doctor appear to show bodies and damage to structures

The reports centre on a tiny strip of land on the north-east coast, where Tamil Tiger rebels are still holding out against government forces.

The Sri Lankan military has restricted the rebels to a 12 sq km (5 sq miles) area and believes it is close to defeating them.

Tens of thousands of civilians have been trapped in the area, and the EU and the UN have urged Sri Lanka to observe a pause in its campaign to let them out.

The government says a halt would serve no purpose. Diplomatic efforts to bring more help for the civilians in the war zone have so far made little progress.

The Tamil Tigers have fought for an independent homeland for Sri Lanka's Tamil minority since 1983.

More than 70,000 people have been killed in the war, but that figure could now be far higher.



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