St.Peters Church in Navaly bombed with refugees inside

Place: Navaly | Courtesy: Collection
| Date: 19950709

Having dropped leaflets asking the people to move to places of worship the Sri Lanka air force there after attacked the places of worship where Tamil civilians had sought refuge. On the day after the attack, 56 bodies were retrieved from the debris, many of whom were women and children. The death toll in this incident later increased to 120. 13 babies died in their mother's arms. Rescue workers reported torn limbs and pieces of human flesh strewn over the area.

International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva (Switzerland) issued the following Communication to the Press on 11th July 1995.

Communication to the press No.95/30
11 July 1995


Geneva (ICRC). On 9 July the Sri Lankan armed forces launched a large-scale military offensive against the positions of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) north of the city of Jaffna. The operation, involving intensive artillery shelling and air strikes, immediately forced tens of thousands of civilians to leav the area. Many of the displaced sought shelter in churches and tenples, including several hundred people who took refuge in the Church of St. Peter and Paul Navaly.

According to eye-witness accounts, this church and several adjacent buildings were hit by further air force strikes at 4.30 p.m the same day. During the attack 65 people were killed and 150 wounded, including women and children. That evening and into the night Sri Lanka Red Cross staff evacuated most of the wounded by ambulance to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital. Delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) present the next morning at the scene of the attack noted the widespread damage and measured the extent of the tragedy: many of the bodies had not yet been removed from the rubble.

Deeply concerned by the series of the violent acts that have claimed innocent civilians, the ICRC calls on the parties involved to respect civilian lives, property and places of refuge. It also urges them to respect the protected zone around the Jaffna Teaching Hospital and to refrain from attacking any other medical facilities.

"Thirteen babies were among the 65 dead found under the rubble of a Catholic church bombed by the Sri Lankan air force, an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) official said on Tuesday. ICRC field coordinator Dominique Henry said at least one bomb hit St Peter's Church at Navali, north of Jaffna town, on Sunday, the day the armed forces launched their ``Operation Leap Forward'' against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The military, which said it was not aware of any church being bombed, had dropped leaflets warning civilians in the rebel-held peninsula to seek refuge in temples and churches to minimise the chance of death or injury in air strikes… `This is really a violation of humanitarian law if a civilian area has been deliberately targeted,'' Henry said, adding that he had no information on whether the attack was deliberate or an accident. (Reuter 11 July 1995)

In a letter dated 10 July 1995, the Bishop of Jaffna, Thomas Savundranayagam called upon President Chandrika Kumaratunga to stop these attacks on churches, temples and schools. He pointed out that at the time of bombing, displaced Tamil civilians had sought shelter in these places of worship. He wrote:


"Your Excellency,

St.Peters Church, Navaly

Please allow me to bring the following sad incident to your kind attention.

I very much regret to report to you the tragic killings of innocent civilian refugees who had gathered at the above Church on the instruction of your Defence Ministry.

A 'Pukkara' Air Craft had dropped a cluster of many bombs on this crowd of refugees who had taken shelter in the church resulting in the death of over 65 civilians including women and children and over 150 were seriously injured sustaining the loss of limbs.

Besides many were rendered homeless as many houses were razed to the ground and others heavily damaged, including our church and priest's house. All the people in this village have fled to safer areas as refugees.

Therefore we very earnestly appeal to Your Excellency to kindly instruct your forces to desist from bombing, strafing, artillery rocked attacks on civilian targets like Kovils, Churches, Schools and Hospitals."

"After hundreds of civilians heed the Sri Lankan army's advice to seek refuge in St.Peter's church at Navali, an airforce plane bombs the building killing more than 120 people... Operation Leap Forward began at dawn on July 9 and the military warned civilians to clear the south west of its base at Palaly, recommending churches and temples as shelters. At 4.30 p.m. an Argentine made Pucara fighter flew toward the Navali church, 3 km outside the combat zone, and bombed the sanctuary and adjacent courtyard."

"Most of the people huddled inside were women and children, many of whom were killed immediately. Others had limbs blown off. Survivors were brought by tractor to the town of Jaffna 6 km away, but the Jaffna Teaching Hospital and its lone surgeon weren't prepared. They soon ran out of bandages, antibiotics and beds. "The treatment was crude", said Subramaniam Jebanesan, the Protestant Bishop of Jaffna, who rushed to the hospital to help. "Limbs that could have been saved had to be amputated". (Time Magazine 31 July 1995)

"St.Peters Church in Navaly and the adjoining St.Peter's School where hundreds had sought shelter were badly gutted. 56 bodies were retrieved from the debris, many of whom were women and children. The final death toll in Navaly was about 120. Rescue workers have reported that torn limbs and pieces of human flesh were strewn over the area." (Press Release by Humanitarian Law Project, International Educational Development, 12 July 1995)

"Pope John Paul said on Wednesday he was suffering along with the families of people killed when air force bombs hit a church in Sri Lanka. The Red Cross said 65 people died on Sunday when the bombs hit a Catholic church in Navali, north of Jaffna, and many more had died or fled their homes in the last three days of fighting between Tamil guerrillas and the Sri Lankan army. "I want to express my deep-felt sharing in the suffering of so many people involved in the ethnic conflict that is tearing Sri Lanka apart," he told pilgrims and tourists at his weekly general audience. "I share the grief of those who lost their loved ones in the bombing of the church and school of Navali," he added. The Pope, who visited Sri Lanka earlier this year, also called for negotiation to end the fighting. (Vatican City, July 12 Reuter Report)

INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS Names and Details of those identified bodies of the innocent tamil civilians who were killed during the military offensive of the Sri Lankan armed forces on 9th July 95, at the Catholic church, where the tamils have taken refuge.

Name of the dead PersonGenderAgeAddress
Mrs.N.Annaladsumy female57110 BrownRd. Jaffna
Mrs.S.Gunamanyfemale57Kopulam,Sandilipay North
Mrs.N.Vasanthamalarfemale32Kalaiyady, Pandaththarippu
Mrs.R.Pushparanyfemale36Kalaiyady, Pandaththarippu
Mrs.P.Balayoginifemale35Kantharodai, Chunnakam
Miss.P.Balavallifemale13Kantharodai, Chunnakam
Mr.S.Selvaratnammale46Nedunkulam Rd, Colombogam
Mrs.T.Pushparanifemale34Kaddudai, Manipay
Mrs.S.Parasakthyfemale29Chulipuram West, Chulipuram
Mr.S.Shanmuganathanmale25Chulipuram West, Chulipuram
Miss.Kemalathafemale27Navaly North, Manipay
Mas.S.Pratheeshmale16Navaly North, Manipay
Mr.P.Ketheeswaramale17Vellantheru, Jaffna
Miss.R.Chithrafemale15Navaly South, Manipay
Mrs.S.Rasammahfemale71Sankaraththai, Vaddukkoddai
Mrs.N.Thevaranjinifemale24Navaly East, Manipay
Mr.P.Kalyanapillaimale604th Cross St, Jaffna
Mr.T.Jesuthaasanmale21Main St., Jaffna
Mrs.S.Rasammahmale50Chulipuram, Thelpuram
Mas.Jegatheesan Jeevadasmale17Navaly South, Manipay
Mrs.A.Yogeswaryfemale35General Hospital, Jaffna
Mr.K.Thurairajahmale55Black Road, Chankanai
Mrs.K.Anjanadevifemale36Kaddudai, manipay
Mrs.K.Kamaladevifemale45Navaly East, Manipay
Mas.Vethushanmale12Vellantheru, Jaffna
Mr.A.Gunaratnammale40Vellantheru, Jaffna
Mrs.K.Rahinifemale35Vellantheru, Jaffna
Miss.Dharshinifemale14Vellantheru, Jaffna
Mas.Piranavanmale05Vellantheru, Jaffna
Mr.Lucas Jude Mohanmale23Navaly South, Manipay
Mrs.K.Savithirifemale45Navaly East, Manipay
Mr.V.Vanniyasingammale57Navaly North, Manipay
Mr.N.Chiththrabalamale50Chullipuram West, Chullipuram
Mrs.P.Langeswaryfemale24Chullipuram West, Chullipuram
Miss.P.Mathivathanafemale12Chullipuram West, Chullipuram
Miss.C.Thaceswaryfemale17Chullipuram West, Chullipuram
Miss.S.Jeyabalinifemale19Chullipuram West, Chullipuram
Mas.Pirahatheepanmale07Chullipuram West, Chullipuram
Mr.N.Gopalakrishnanmale29Chullipuram West, Chullipuram
Mas.K.Kajanthanmale09Chullipuram West, Chullipuram
Mas.V.Jeyanthanmale04Chullipuram West, Chullipuram
Mr.S.Mahendranmale29Chullipuram West, Chullipuram
Mas.S.Piratheepanmale13Kuhanthiram valavu, manipay
Mrs.S.Saraswathyfemale72Navaly South, Manipay
Mas.K.Kailrajahmale09Murugan kovilady, Navaly
Miss.K.Vinobafemale05Murugan kovilady, Navaly
Mr.C.Nagaratnammale60Murugan kovilady, Navaly
Miss.R.Thanushalafemale05131 Mount Carmal Rd, Gurunagar, Jaffna
Mrs.R.Sasikalafemale02kandy Road, Chavakachcheri
Mr.S.Rajaduraimale35Navaly South, Manipay
Mrs.R.Maheswaryfemale34Navaly South, Manipay
Mas.R.Chandrakanthanmale13Navaly South, Manipay
Miss.P.Suthafemale11Navaly South, Manipay
Mr.V.Satkunarajahmale30Navaly South, Manipay
Mr.P.Selvaratnammale60Navaly South, Manipay
Miss.T.Thuvarakadevifemale21Madaththady, Tholpuram
Mas.T.Nareshkumarmale11Navaly South, Manipay
Mr.M.Thiruchchelvammale54Valanpuram, Colombothurai
Mrs.S.Maheswaryfemale27Tholpuram Centre, Chullipuram
Mr.H.Sithamparammale72Tholpuram Centre, Chullipuram
Mr.P.Uthayarajahmale22Navaly South, Manipay
Mr.P.Indrakumarmale15Chulipuram West, Chulipuram
Miss.K.Thevachelvifemale10kaddupulam, Chulipuram
Mrs.V.Liladevifemale355th Cross Street, Colombothurai
Mr.S.Jeyaseelanmale40Navalar Street, Navanthurai
Mrs.K.Navaladchumyfemale42Illayathamby Tea Room, Manipay
Mr.K.Thevakulasingammale36Sivan kovilady, Thirunelveli
Mas.A.Yogeswaranfemale16Kapiranjoy Camp, Chunnakam
Mr.M.Pararajasingammale42Kaddudai, Manipay
Mr.G.Saththiyananthanmale63no.14, Kalaipulavarveethy, Jaffna
Mas.S.Gopikanmale13Uduvil, Chunnakam
Miss.N.Jeyathafemale25Uyarapulam, Anaicoddai
Mas.N.Thevaganeshmale15Uyarapulam, Anaicoddai
Miss.V.Abiramifemale10Uyarapulam, Anaicoddai
Mrs.K.Maheswarifemale55Thavady North, Kokuvil
Mr.T.Thiyagarajahmale59General Hospital, Jaffna
Mr.T.Anantharajahmale34General Hospital, Jaffna
Mr.T.Kulasingammale70Uduvil West, Chunnakam
Mr.SivaBalasubramaniammale50Petnathy Road, Kokuvil
Mr.S.Thevarmale50Petnathy Road, Kokuvil
Child of Thevarfemale10Petnathy Road, Kokuvil
Child of Thevarfemale07Petnathy Road, Kokuvil
Child of Thevarfemale05Petnathy Road, Kokuvil
Miss.S.Anjanathevyfemale27135, 3rd Cross St, Jaffna
Mas.K.Vasikaranmale10Tholpuram, Chulipuram
Mas.B.Ananda Alaganmale16Tholpuram, Chulipuram
Mr.P.Ravimale20Vannarappannai, Jaffna
Miss.T.Sujeevafemale17Navaly South, Manipay
Mas.P.Krishnakumarmale01Vadaliadaippu, Pandaththarippu
Mas.R.Rajamohanmale16Araly South, Vaddukkodai
Mr.N.Narayanasingammale50Araly South, Vaddukkodai
Mrs.S.Rasammah female57Nitchamam, Chankanai
Mrs.M.Sarasu female75Nitchamam, Chankanai
Mr.M.Ponnambalammale40Navaly East, Manipay
Mrs.S.Ratnapoopathyfemale66200 Kasturiar Rd., Jaffna
Mrs.I.Pawalamfemale70Pannakam, Chankanai
Mrs.S.Suseeladevifemale43ICRC Jaffna
Mrs.V.Sellammahfemale34Kaaduppulam, Chulipuram
Mr.Veerasingammale43Muthaliyar kovilady, Manipay
Mr.S.Jeyabalanmale50Pulawar veethy, Kalviyangkaadu
Mr.N.Saravanamuththumale60Kaddudai, Manipay
Mr.K.Pathmanathanmale24Near Ponnammah Mill Jaffna
Mrs.K.Revathy female36Murugan kovilady, Navaly