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DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka: Suicide bombing breaches international law

9 Feb 2009
Region: DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA
Topic: Regional conflict
Amnesty International condemned the actions of a suicide bomber, reportedly dressed as a civilian, who blew herself up today killing 28 people and wounding dozens of others at a check point for civilians fleeing the conflict zone.
Such tactics violate the international legal prohibition on perfidious attacks and expose civilians to increased danger.

“Blurring the distinction between civilians and combatants means that thousands of ordinary people, desperate to flee the conflict area, are at greater risk of reprisals and getting caught in crossfire,” said Yolanda Foster, Amnesty International’s Sri Lanka expert.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have a long history of using suicide bombers and have, in the past, targeted civilians. They have not assumed responsibility for the attack today.

“The Tamil Tigers must immediately and publicly disavow the use of tactics such as suicide bombers disguised as civilians,” said Yolanda Foster.

“It is important to remember that the use of such attacks by one party to an armed conflict does not excuse unlawful attacks in response. This perfidious assault should not be used as an excuse by the Sri Lankan military to abuse displaced civilians who should still be treated in accordance with international law,” Yolanda Foster said. “The Sri Lankan security forces must still make sure that their actions are directed against military targets and not civilians.”.

The government has restricted media access to conflict areas making it impossible to verify accounts of what is happening on the ground.

“In a war with no witnesses, it is the civilians who pay the price for both parties disregard for international humanitarian law”.

9 February 2009

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