The Co-Chairs of the Tokyo donors` conference have condemned the aerial bombing of a spot next to the Kilinochchi General Hospital on Thursday in which six civilians were killed and the hospital suffered bad collateral damage.
Reacting to this on Friday, the Co-Chairs, namely, Norway, US, EU and Japan, expressed `deep regret` and said that the explosion came `at a delicate time when both sides should seek to build confidence and compromise to ensure further rounds of talks`.
The Co-Chairs further said that they expected both the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to refrain from military action.
The Co-Chairs of the June 2003 Tokyo donors` conference are the `international community` in the Sri Lankan peace process.
The bombs dropped by Kfir supersonic jet fighter bombers of the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) fell 150 to 500 metres from the hospital on the main A9 highway.
They killed a family of five instantly. A young hospital patient died of shock later.
The blasts tore the false ceilings of the hospital, and ceiling fans and tube lights were left dangling over the beds in the wards. About 500 patients fled the premises in panic.
The Director of the hospital, Dr Sathanandan, was quoted by the Tamilnet website as saying that in accordance with the wishes of the Red Cross, the hospital had put up a Red Cross flag.
But this had not been a deterrent to the attacking aircraft, he noted.
Members of the Scandinavian-staffed Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) inspected the damage.
Message or terror, says LTTE
In a strong response to the bombing, the LTTE`s political wing leader, SP Tamilselvan, said that it was a `message or terror` within 24 hours of the return of the LTTE`s delegation to the island after the collapse of the second round of talks in Geneva in the last week of October.
An innocent family was wiped out and patients were terrorised, Tamilselvan said.
However, the Sri Lankan government maintained that the target struck was a `military training base` of the LTTE and continued its bombing campaign.
On Friday, the SLAF bombed a LTTE training and transit base in Kadirveli in the eastern district of Batticaloa, and a Sea Tiger (LTTE navy) base north of Mannar in North West Sri Lanka.
The pin pointed bombings neutralised the bases, from which the LTTE had been planning to attack Batticaloa and Mannar, the government`s National Security website said.