Sri Lanka Hospital Attack Kills 49: Doctor

Shell strikes only working facility in war zone
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 12, 2009 6:27 AM CDT
In this Monday, May 11, 2009 photo, Sri Lankan ethnic Tamils are seen with the dead bodies of their relatives at a makeshift hospital in Tamil Tiger-controlled no fire zone in Mullivaaykaal.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A mortar shell struck the only functioning medical facility in Sri Lanka's northern war zone this morning, killing 49 patients and bystanders and wounding more than 50 others, a government health official said. It was the second time this month that the facility has been hit. Shells were still hitting the area hours later, including one that landed about 150 yards from the hospital, said a government doctor.

The attack came after a weekend of heavy shelling that killed hundreds of civilians trapped in the war zone. A rebel spokesman blamed the attack on the government, and said civilians were fleeing in all directions. The military has denied accusations that it was still shelling the tiny coastal strip under rebel control, which is packed with an estimated 50,000 civilians.