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US warns Sri Lanka on war crime charges


WASHINGTON – THE United States on Tuesday urged Sri Lanka to move quickly to address allegations of war crimes, warning of rising pressure for international action if it does not.

The State Department stopped short of endorsing calls for an international investigation into the bloody finale of the island’s civil war in 2009, saying that domestic authorities have primary responsibility to ensure accountability.

‘We continue to urge the government of Sri Lanka to quickly demonstrate that it is able and willing to meet these obligations as it seeks reconciliation,’ a State Department statement said.

‘We hope the Sri Lankans will themselves do this, but if they do not, there will be growing pressure from the international community to examine other options,’ it said.

Pressure has mounted on Sri Lanka since Britain’s Channel 4 broadcast a documentary that showed what it said were prisoner executions and bodies of female Tamil fighters who appeared to have been sexually assaulted.

The United Nations has said that up to 7,000 civilians were killed in the final months of the fighting and a recent UN report accused government forces of executing rebel leaders who were said to have worked out a surrender. An estimated 100,000 people were killed in the nearly four-decade-long Tamil separatist conflict, which began in 1972. — AFP

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