[Los Angeles Times]
The number of civilian deaths in Sri Lanka has risen sharply in the last month, Human Rights Watch said Friday, calling on both sides in the protracted civil war to stop firing at civilians or shelling areas where they are concentrated. The government has been battling the Tamil Tiger rebel group, which wants a homeland for the Tamil minority, for the last 25 years. In recent weeks the army has stepped up its offensive, boxing in the rebels in a smaller area in the north. But by some estimates, up to 100,000 civilians are trapped in the war zone, with both sides unwilling to halt their fire and let them flee.