Civilians were slaughtered by Sri Lankan government forces and Tamil Tigers alike in the bloody final phase of the island nation's civil war, according to a hard-hitting report from a United Nations panel. The report accuses the Sri Lankan military of urging civilians in the separatist north to gather in "no-fire zones," which were then shelled extensively by the government, killing tens of thousands of people in early 2009. The Tigers, for their part, used civilians as human shields and shot those who tried to flee, according to the files. The atrocities "would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity," read the report.
In the final few days of the war, some 330,000 civilians were trapped in an ever-decreasing area as the Tigers made their last stand. UN chief Ban Ki-moon says he would welcome a mandate for the UN to launch an international investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity, the AP reports. He has urged Sri Lanka to launch its own investigation and prosecute military chiefs responsible for atrocities, but the Sri Lankan government has dismissed the UN report as biased and fraudulent.