Amnesty presses UN on Sri Lanka casualty figures

Morning Star Online, Sunday 31 May 2009

Amnesty is urging the United Nations to publicise its estimate of civilian deaths in the final weeks of Sri Lanka’s civil war, amid mounting speculation over the true toll.

The NGO said that it has received “consistent testimony” that both government troops and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam fighters had killed thousands of civilians trapped in the war zone.

It called for an independent international investigation to uncover the truth.

The group did not say who had testified to the alleged abuses.

The UN said that 7,000 civilians had been killed and 16,700 wounded between January 20 and May 7.

However, these estimates, circulated among diplomats, were not released publicly.

Amnesty cited an investigation published on Friday in a British newspaper, which claimed that 20,000 civilians had been killed in the final phase of the war.

The report cited unnamed UN sources.

But the world body denied that the figure had come from the UN and said that the exact death toll may never be known because there were no independent observers on the ground.

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