Sri Lanka has come down heavily on a US State Department report claiming human rights violations by that country's military during the war against Tamil Tigers, saying the allegations are aimed at bringing 'disrepute' to the government.
'The allegations against the Government of Sri Lanka appear to be unsubstantiated and devoid of corroborative evidence. There is a track record of vested interests endeavouring to bring the government of Sri Lanka into disrepute, through fabricated allegations and concocted stories,' The Guardian quoted a Sri Lankan foreign affairs ministry statement as saying.
According to the US report, Lankan forces abducted and killed ethnic Tamil civilians, shelled and bombed no-fire zones, and killed senior rebel leaders with whom they had brokered a surrender.
Stephen Rapp, the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes, called on Sri Lanka to investigate allegations of abuse by both sides.
'We want accountability in this situation. We believe that (Sri Lankan authorities) can investigate this. We are trusting in that commitment,' he said.
The 70-page report to Congress was compiled from intelligence reports from the US embassy in Colombo.
Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said: 'The US State Department report should dispel any doubts that serious abuses were committed during the conflict's final months. Given Sri Lanka's complete failure to investigate possible war crimes, the only hope for justice is an independent, international investigation.'
One source in the no-fire zone estimated that 100 people a day were dying in Sri Lankan army shelling and bombing.
Another source said shells continually struck hospital facilities in the area, even though their locations had been carefully reported to the government.