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US releases pics of civilian deaths during Lankan civil war

January 09, 2014 18:29 IST

In a significant move coinciding with the visit of a top United States official probing war crimes, the American embassy in Colombo on Thursday posted pictures of places where civilians had died allegedly during Sri Lanka's final war against rebel Tamil Tigers four years ago.

The US embassy's official Twitter handle uploaded a photo with a caption saying, "St Anthany's Ground-site of Jan 2009 killing of hundreds of families by (Lankan) army shelling".

Sri Lanka had for long dismissed accusations that army had fired shells at civilian locations. In May 2009, Sri Lankan military had defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels. Colombo has resisted calls to probe claims that over 40,000 ethnic minority Tamils were killed by the military during the final phase of the civil war.

The Twitter account also posted other photos of the final battle zone where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the army had declared no fire zone to allow Tamil civilians to flee the conflict area.

Stephen J Rapp, US Ambassador-at-Large at the Office of Global Criminal Justice, is on a two day visit to Jaffna -- the area that saw the worst of the nearly three-decade-long war -- as part of his week long visit to the country.

The embassy's move is seen with interest by observers ahead of the 3rd US sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka to be moved at the UN Human Rights Council in March. Two  previous resolutions were adopted with India's support. Both called for expeditious action to achieve reconciliation with the Tamil minority.

Rapp's visit met with a protest opposite the US embassy. A nationalist group slammed the US for interfering in the country's internal affairs.

A protest was sparked when Rapp told the main Tamil party Tamil National Alliance that the March resolution would push for an international war crimes investigation.

Image: St Anthany's Ground-site of Jan 2009 killing of hundreds of families by (Lankan) army shelling.

Image courtesy: US embassy's Twitter page

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