By SONJA DECHIAN
The Sri Lankan army says it will investigate allegations that war crimes were committed by troops during the country’s civil war against Tamil rebels. Army commander Lt-Gen Jagath Jayasuriya has appointed a court of inquiry to examine reports that troops were responsible for killing civilians and prisoners in 2009.
The announcement is a major shift for Sri Lanka’s armed forces, which previously insisted it did not kill a single Tamil civilian during the offensive. Western governments and human right groups have increasingly pressured Sri Lanka to account for suspected war crimes committed in the final phase of a 25-year war against LTTE rebels, also referred to as the Tamil Tigers.
The announcement came two days after the United States said it would back a resolution in the UN Human Rights Council in March urging Sri Lanka to look into war crimes allegedly carried out by its forces.