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Sri Lanka Defends Offensive Against Tamil Rebels

Sri Lanka's foreign minister has defended his government's military offensive against Tamil Tigers, and dismissed reports of heavy weapons being used in civilian areas.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama told a gathering of security officials and experts in Singapore on Sunday that Sri Lanka will investigate allegations of human rights violations itself.

Bogollagama said Sri Lanka is a sovereign nation with rule of law and an independent judiciary.

He said allegations that the Sri Lankan military used heavy weapons in a so-called safe zone were fabricated with ulterior motives in order to discredit the military and the government.

Bogollagama said Sri Lanka is a textbook example of a nation that has successfully prevailed over terrorism while upholding democracy and human rights.

Human rights groups say there was a "bloodbath" in northeast Sri Lanka.  U.N. officials have said an estimated 7,000 civilians were killed in the final assault on rebel-held territory.

But The Times of London says an internal United Nations put the number at about 20,000.

Reporters Without Borders has also called for access to camps for hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced by the recent fighting


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

 

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