Doctor: 64 Dead in Shelling of Sri Lankan Hospital

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 2, 2009 9:24 AM CDT
In this photo released by by Human Rights Watch, injured ethnic Tamil civilians are admitted to a make-shift medical point near Valayarmadam, Sri Lanka, Monday, April 27, 2009.    (AP Photo/ Human Rights Watch, HO)
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(Newser) – Artillery shells hit a makeshift hospital in Sri Lanka's northern war zone today, killing at least 64 civilians, a government doctor reports, amid growing international pressure to safeguard thousands of civilians trapped in the area. A rebel-linked website accused government forces of shelling the hospital, while the military said soldiers were using only small arms as they pushed forward to seize the remaining territory held by separatist Tamil Tigers.

The hospital is inside rebel-held territory but is run by government doctors. The casualties came amid growing international concern over the fate of the estimated 50,000 civilians trapped in the war zone; the UN says nearly 6,500 civilians were killed in the last 3 months. The government has rejected calls for a cease-fire, saying its troops are on the verge of ending the quarter-century civil war. They instead promised on Monday to stop using artillery attacks, airstrikes, and other heavy weapons.