21 civilians killed in SLAF attack

Place: Mullaithivu | Courtesy: TamilNet
| Date: 19990915

More than twenty one civilians, including school children and women were killed and more than forty seriously wounded when two Kfir jets of the Sri Lanka Air Force bombed a crowded public place in Puthukkudiyiruppu in the Mullaithivu district this morning around 10 a.m.

The Puthukkudiyiruppu market and a many houses and buildings nearby were destroyed in the SLAF bombing NGO sources in the Vanni said this afternoon. Human flesh is strewn all over the market area they said.

Meanwhile Tamil Eelam Vaanoli, the commercial service of the Voice of Tigers (VoT) radio said this evening 22 civilians were killed and 41 wounded in the attack. Ten houses were damaged, the radio added.

According to the radio following civilians were killed in the air strike:


  • Sangarapillai Sellamanikam (70), Ward 7, Puthukkudiyiruppu
  • Ariyanaygam Gajanthini (12), Ward 8, Manuthuvil, Puthukkudiyiruppu
  • Selliah Arumugam (59), Valayarmadam Mullivaaikaal
  • Kanapathipillai Yogarasaa, (36) Valayaramdam Mullivaaikaal
  • Antony Thavarasa Thersammah, (50), Ward 8, Puthukkudiyiruppu
  • Packiyanathan Reetama, (56), Ward 8, Puthukkudiyiruppu
  • Antonyo Christia Florence (54) Ward 8, Puuthukudiueruppu
  • Pathmarasa Jenitta (15), Ward 8 Manthuvil, Puthukkudiyiruppu
  • Gnanasegaram Letchumipillai (43), Ward 8, Pilllayarkovilady, Puthukkudiyiruppu
  • Anthonypillai Sebamalaimuthu (45), Ward 8, Manthuvil, Puthukkudiyiruppu
  • Thanadas Jenodi (25), Ward 8, Manthuvil, Puthukkudiyiruppu
  • Sinniah Ugapaalasingam (35), Ward 6, Puthukudiyerupppu
  • Savariyon (50), Ward 8 Manthuvil, Puthukkudiyiruppu
  • Sinnathamby Thambu (55), Ward 6, Puthukkudiyiruppu
  • Thambiah Subramaniam, Ward 6, Aanandapuram
  • Alam Rose Konstoses (20), Panayadi, Mullivaaikaal
  • Rasanayagam Uthayaruban (18), Panayadi, Mullivaaikaal
  • Thevanayagam Sebastianpillai (52), Anthoniyaar Kovilady, Palaya Maathavalane
  • Arumugam Jeyaraaman (50), Ward 6 Manthuvil, Puthukkudiyiruppu
  • Jeyaraman Chandrakumar (20), Ward 6 Manthuvil, Puthukkudiyiruppu
  • Jeyam Jeysankar (33), Ward 6 Manthuvil, Puthukkudiyiruppu
  • Antonio Melrose (29), Manthuvil, Puthukkudiyiruppu

    Red Cross confirms Puthukkudiyiruppu massacre

    A spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that sixteen civilians were killed on the spot and six who were seriously wounded died in the hospital when Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) jets bombed a busy market place in the morning yesterday in northern Sri Lanka.

    "It is with deep regret and concern that we confirm the death of 21 civilians consequent to the air strike in Puthukkudiyiruppu yesterday. We deplore the fact that the air strike was in a civilian area," ICRC spokesman Harasha Gunawardana said when contacted by TamilNet this morning about the SLAF bombing in Puthtukkudiyiruppu in the Mullaithivu district.

    The sub-delegation of the ICRC in Puthukkudiyiruppu is less than two kilometers from the market place which was bombed yesterday.

    Mr.Gunwardana said that the ICRC provided emergency dressing material, IVs etc., to the Puthtukkudiyiruppu hospital.

    Meanwhile, a Tamil politician in Colombo said that the SLAF attack on the civilian target appeared to be in retaliation to the heavy losses suffered last Sunday by the Sri Lanka army north of Mannar.

    He pointed out that civilian targets have been bombed by the SLAF in past following major set backs in the war against the Liberation Tigers.

    According to independent sources, 138 Sri Lanka army personnel, including two officers, were killed and 902 were wounded when the Liberation Tigers counter attacked a major offensive by government forces named Operation Rana Gosa 5 on Sunday, Sept.12.

    Amnesty questions Puthukkudiyiruppu bombing raid

    Amnesty International said today that the explanation proffered by the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) for the bombing of the Puthukkudiyiruppu market on Wednesday "does not absolve it from its responsibility under international humanitarian law to take all possible precautions to avoid harming civilians"

    Amnesty, in a statement expressing concern over the bombing, said a Sri Lankan military spokesperson had denied the raid, which killed at least 21 refugees in a crowded market place, had been a deliberate attack on civilians.

    The military had told the London based human rights watchdog that two bombing raids were carried out in the area, one of them aimed at a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) camp at Nandikadal, about four and a half kilometres to the east of Puthukkudiyiruppu.

    Amnesty said that the reported high number of civilian casualties and the significant distance between the intended objective of the air strike and the actual place where the civilians were killed, raise serious doubts about the quality of the intelligence used before the bombing raid.

    It also raises questions as to whether the alleged military value of this attack was proportionate to the risk it posed to civilians, said Amnesty.

    The spokesperson said the SLAF had attacked a legitimate military target, that the reported killings of civilians were being investigated, and that the attack had followed normal procedures, including prior checks with intelligence sources regarding any civilian presence near the area.

    Amnesty International has written to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga expressing concern as to whether this may have been an unlawful attack.

    The organization asked a number of specific questions about the SLAF's adherence to fundamental rules of humanitarian law.

    These include the prohibition of direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects and the prohibition of attacks on military targets expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, the Amnesty statement said.

    Other rules require specific precautions to be taken when launching attacks, including desisting from an attack if it becomes apparent that the objective is not a military one or the attack risks being disproportionate, the statement said further.

    Amnesty International said it is concerned that this incident may indicate that not all precautions are being taken to protect civilians, for instance in the SLAF's selecting and vetting of targets, in choosing the timing of attacks, in the way such attacks are carried out, and in ensuring that civilians are being given advance warning when possible.

    The human rights organization has also asked to receive relevant details of the rules of engagement and other instructions given to pilots in order to assess whether these comply with international humanitarian law.

    Jets hit correct targets - military

    Sri Lanka Army (SLA) spokesman, Brigadier Sunil Tennekoon, said at the weekly cabinet press briefing in Colombo this morning that Air Force jets had correctly hit their targets in Puthukkudiyiruppu on Wednesday. He was responding to questions from journalists about the bombing of a busy market place in northern Sri Lanka yesterday.

    "We hit the correct targets. They were LTTE camps. The bomb attack in the general area of Puthukkudiyiruppu was successful" the SLA spokesman insisted when journalists pointed out that the ICRC has confirmed that place bombed by the SLAF jets yesterday was a busy market and that 21 civilians were killed and more than 40 wounded in the attack.

    Sri Lanka's Media Minister Mr.Mangala Samaraweera and Director of the Govt. Department of Information, Mr.Ariya Rubasingha were also present at the press briefing.

    The military spokesman also said that the SLA had conducted a limited operation at Thattuvaankottil in Paranthan east last night in which two soldiers were wounded and two Tigers had been killed.

    He claimed that troops had recovered two T-56 assault rifles, four magazines, 78 rounds of ammunition and 4 grenades during a search in Thirunelvely in Jaffna.

    They had also recovered 20 kilos of explosives, 5 claymore mines and ten detonators in search operations in the peninsula, he said.

    The SLA had found 1.5 kilograms of explosives hidden in plastic tubes at a tuition centre in Kaithady according to Brigadier Sunil Tennekoon.

    Elsewhere, a man and his wife were injured at Sampur in the Muttur area when the Sri Lankan naval gunboats shelled the village yesterday night, residents said.

    The couple, Velautham Kanagaretnam (45) and Kanagaretnam Vimaladevi.have been admitted to the Muttur hospital, hospital sources said.

    The shelling began around 9 p.m. and continued for about half an hour, residents said. About 30 shells were fired they added.