Reports are emerging from Sri Lanka that the leader of the Tamil Tigers may have been killed along with his son as his forces mount what looks like a last stand in a tiny area in the north of the island. The government claims that tens of thousands of civilians have been allowed to flee over the last few days, but with journalists banned and the Red Cross – the only outsiders allowed access to the conflict area by the Sri Lankan government – having lost contact with its people, it is hard to form an accurate picture.
We do know that the United Nations is saying that 300,000 civilians have had to flee their homes in the last few weeks, and it believes that many of those who have escaped in the last few days need urgent medical treatment for wounds or malnutrition, while the Sri Lankan army says only a few need hospital care.
The Tigers’ fight for a Tamil homeland has cost 70,000 lives over the last quarter of a century, and many in Sri Lanka are relieved that it now appears to be over, but others are worried that the army’s campaign will have radicalised the Tamil minority, and that the Tigers may soon launch a suicide bombing campaign.
Meanwhile the UK and the UN have called for an investigation into allegations that the Sri Lankan forces committed war crimes by shelling civilian targets such as hospitals. See also my blogs of Jan 28, Feb 24 and May 11.