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Sri Lanka: Govt must investigate deadly bus attack

Sri Lanka: top UN rights chief calls on Government to investigate deadly bus attack

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has called on the Sri Lankan Government to investigate yesterday’s attack on a bus, which reportedly killed 62 civilians and injured more than 40 others, including school-aged children, in a country wracked by a conflict with Tamil separatists.

“This attack is much more than a ceasefire violation, it is a grave breach of the most fundamental tenets of humanity,” she said in a statement. “The Government must urgently investigate this case, so that those responsible not only face justice, but the full censure of the international community.”

She urged the Government to ensure effective measures are in place to prevent any communal backlash and protect civilian life and property for all communities, including those displaced from their homes.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday deplored the attack, saying it was “wholly irresponsible and unjustifiable for combatants in any cause to plant mines that can have this kind of tragic result.”

Ms. Arbour recalled that it came against a backdrop of an alarming trend in recent months in which civilians, including children, are increasingly becoming the targets of escalating violence in Sri Lanka between the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Just last month she urged the parties to take immediate steps to defuse the violence, resume dialogue and strengthen measures to protect against human rights abuses.

She noted that on 13 May, 13 Tamil civilians were killed on the island of Keyts in Jaffna, including an infant and a young child. On 29 May, 12 Sinhalese construction workers were killed execution-style near Welikanda in Batticaloa. On 9 June, a Tamil family of four including two children, were brutally murdered near Mannar. To date, investigations into these attacks on civilians have yet to produce results, she said.

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