Colombo Page: The Sri Lanka Army has strongly denied a UN report that said unexploded cluster munitions have been found in northern Sri Lanka indicating the military’s use of cluster bombs during the war with the Tamil Tiger terrorists.The Army has noted that the military had not used cluster bombs and that cluster munitions have not been found in the North as reported by a foreign news agency quoting an UN official.
Military Spokesperson Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasuriya told the media that cluster munitions have not been found in Sri Lanka.
The Government officially called for evidence on the report that has claimed cluster munitions have been found in the North.
The Army made these comments in response to a report by Associated that said a report by a UN mine expert has claimed that unexploded cluster bomblets were discovered in the Puthukudiyiruppu area, where a boy was killed last month and his sister was injured as they tried to pry apart an explosive device they had found to sell for scrap metal.
The report had been sent by Allan Poston, who is the technical advisor for the UN Development Program’s mine action group in Sri Lanka.
“After reviewing additional photographs from the investigation teams, I have determined that there are cluster sub-munitions in the area where the children were collecting scrap metal and in the house where the accident occurred. This is the first time that there has been confirmed unexploded sub-munitions found in Sri Lanka,” Poston has said in an email.
The UN official in his email has said that the mine clearers in Sri Lanka had not been prepared to deal with the bomblets, and are now relying on the experience of de-miners who had worked in Lebanon.
According to the email, a de-miner with experience in Lebanon was asked to clear the area and train other teams on handling the bomblets, the AP report said.
The official has further said that the local mine clearing office is adopting the Lebanon standards, and UNICEF was informed of the need to educate the local population about the dangers of the unexploded munitions.
However, the Army has noted that the report had been sent without credible information and the Sri Lankan authorities should have been informed before submitting its report although the email has said that the army’s demining unit also was informed of the discovery.
Gordon Weiss, a spokesman for the UN in February 2009 accused the Government of a cluster bomb attack on the Puthukudiyiruppu Hospital that killed 52 civilians. The Government totally denied the use of cluster bombs in the area and the UN later recanted the story.