27 February 2007Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today condemned an attack by separatist rebels in Sri Lanka which injured senior aid officials, including one from the United Nations, and urged both sides in the conflict to halt the bloodshed and resume talks. Mr. Ban’s statement came in reaction to the shelling by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of a helicopter airfield in Batticaloa in eastern Sri Lanka, where 12 people, including the UN Resident Coordinator and other members of a high-ranking international delegation taking part in a humanitarian assessment mission, were injured, according to a statement released by his spokesperson condemning the incident. “The attack was in total disregard for the lives of civilians, humanitarian workers, Government officials, and the international community,” Michele Montas told reporters in New York. “The Secretary-General urges the parties to the conflict to end the destructive spiral of violence and calls on them to make every effort to return to the peace process as soon as possible,” she said. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other agencies have been struggling to assist tens of thousands of civilians who have fled fighting between the Government and the LTTE. UNHCR estimates that some 70,000 people have been killed and 465,000 displaced by the more than two decade-long conflict, including nearly 205,000 uprooted since fighting erupted anew in April 2006 despite a ceasefire signed in 2002.
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