Indiscriminate Bombing And Shelling Of Hospitals by Sri Lankan Military

Sri Lanka Tamil

“Hospitals are supposed to be sanctuaries from shelling, not targets,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “While doctors and nurses struggle to save lives in overcrowded and under equipped facilities, Sri Lankan army attacks have hit one hospital after another.”

The Sri Lankan armed forces have repeatedly struck hospitals in the northern Vanni region in indiscriminate artillery and aerial attacks, during the war with LTTE Commanders responsible for ordering or conducting such attacks may be prosecuted for war crimes.

Patients, medical staff, aid workers, and other witnesses have provided Human Rights Watch with information about at least 30 attacks on permanent and makeshift hospitals in the combat area since December 2008. One of the deadliest took place on May 2, when artillery shells struck Mullaivaikal hospital in the government-declared “no-fire zone,” killing 68 persons and wounding 87.

Attacks on Hospitals in the Vanni (December 15, 2008 – May 2, 2009)

Information compiled by Human Rights Watch from interviews with aid agencies and witnesses

Date Hospital Description
12/15/08 Mullaitivu General Hospital Shelling: 2 patients injured, damage to ward and medical equipment.
12/19/08 Mullaitivu General Hospital 11:30 a.m. Five shells hit hospital causing damage to wards, operating theater, and the Medical Superintendent’s HQ: 2 staff wounded.
12/20/08 Mullaitivu General Hospital Shells hit inside hospital grounds.
12/22/08 Kilinochchi General Hospital 6:20 a.m. Aerial bombing hit near hospital, causing shrapnel damage. No injuries reported.
12/25/08 Kilinochchi General Hospital Shells hit hospital grounds, narrowly missing staff. Damage to newborn nursing section, outpatient department, and reception.
12/30/08 Kilinochchi General Hospital 4 p.m. Shells hit hospital causing damage to the building. No injuries reported.
01/08/09 Tharmapuram Hospital 1:20 p.m. Shells hit Tharmapuram Junction 75 m from the hospital, killing 7.
01/13/09 PTK Hospital 10 a.m. Hospital hit by shells: 1 killed, 6 wounded.  Patients fled to the wards to seek shelter from the shelling.
01/19/09 Vallipuram Hospital Shell landed in hospital yard: 6 people in out-patient ward injured
01/21/09 Vallipuram Hospital 7 p.m. One shell hit hospital
01/22/09 Vallipuram Hospital Morning. Shells hit hospital compound: killing 5 and injuring 22.
01/26/09 UDK Hospital Shells hit hospital: 12 killed, 40 injured.
01/31/09 PTK Hospital Shrapnel from shells hit hospital.
02/01/09 PTK Hospital Three attacks. First attack: 1 person injured by shrapnel inside the hospital. Second attack:1 shell hit the hospital: 1 killed, 4 injured. Third attack: 1 shell hit the women and children ward (no casualty information).
02/02/09 PTK Hospital One shell hit hospital: 7 killed, including a nurse, 15 injured.
02/03/09 PTK Hospital Two attacks – operation ward, staff headquarters, and female ward hit. At least 2 killed and several injured,
02/05/09 Ponnampalam Memorial Hospital Shelling : 60 casualties inside and outside the hospital.
02/09/09 Putumattalan hospital (make-shift hospital for PTK) Around 10 p.m., one shell struck about 10 meters east of the hospital compound. No casualties, but the compound wall was damaged by shrapnel.
02/10/09 Putumattalan Shelling: 16 people killed.
03/16/09 Putumattalan hospital Around 11 a.m. an RPG struck inside the compound, killing two people.
03/23/09 Putumattalan hospital An RPG hit in front of the hospital; at least one killed (a child); two shells hit close to the hospital, injuring at least 15.
04/09/09 Putumattalan hospital and Putumattalan mother and child center Several shelling attacks; 22 killed and at least 300 injured.
04/20/09 Putumattalan hospital Heavy shelling and gunfire attacks during the night; hundreds of civilians injured and at least 13  killed; 2 medical staff sustained gunshot wounds; hospital roof and surgery ward destroyed.
04/21/09 Valayanmadam make-shift hospital Aerial attack; 4 or 5 killed; more than 30 wounded; one doctor killed.
04/23/09 Mullivaikkal hospital Three shells hit the hospital; no information on killed/wounded.
04/28/09 Mullivaikkal Primary Health Center Heavy shelling and aerial attacks; at least 6 killed (previously injured patients receiving treatment); 1 member of medical staff injured.
04/29/09 Mullivaikkal Primary Health Center One shell; 6 patients  killed.
04/29/09 Mullivaikkal Hospital Shelling; roof of one of the wards significantly damaged; at least 9 killed and 15 injured.
04/30/09 Mullivaikkal Hospital Shelling: 9 killed, 15 injured.
05/02/09 Mullivaikkal Hospital Shelling: two attacks, at 9 a.m. and 10.30 a.m.; 68 killed, 87 injured, including medical staff.

  KUMARATHASAN RASINGAM – Secretary, Tamil Canadian Elders for Human Rights Org.


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