01/16/2008, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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End of ceasefire: a bomb explodes killing 20 people, children among those wounded.

On the same day the government formally abandons the ceasefire, an attack targets a bus carrying children in Buttala. Japanese peace envoys express their concern: since the end of the cease fire two weeks ago over 300 people have been killed in the North.

Colombo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A bomb exploded this morning in South East Sri Lanka killing at least 24 people and wounding 67 others. The attack which authorities immediately attributed to the Tamil Tigers took place in Buttala: the bomb targeted a civilian bus, which was carrying many children to school.  A second explosion targeted an armoured army vehicle 20 km further on from the first, wounding three soldiers.  

 This is how the day which marks the governments formal abandonment of the 2002 ceasefire began.  Despite the fact the move was rumoured for weeks the rebels have expressed their “shock and delusion” at the end of the truce, which was effectively never respected by either side.

 "The victims –army spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara reported – were all civilian; in this area the terrorists are desperate and are now targeting the civilian population”.  The explosion in Buttala was just the latest in a series of violent attacks blamed on the Tigers.  The rebels are fighting for independence in the north and east of the island. Civil war broke out in 1983 and it has led to over 70 thousand deaths.   Since Colombo signalled two weeks ago that it would pull out of the truce over 300 people have been killed in battles on the northern front.

The Japanese peace envoy, Yasushi Akashi, who arrived in Sri Lanka two days ago has expressed his serious concern that the end of the ceasefire may lead to a rapid deterioration of the violence and a heavy loss of civilian life.  Following the government decision to abandon all efforts to seek a political solution to the conflict, the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission, one of the few independent groups that had access to both war zones – under government and rebel control – and capable of documenting the violations of human rights which is rampant in the country, has been cancelled.  

 

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