It is shocking that nine children have been killed in a claymore mine blast in Mannar. No sooner had the explosion occurred than the LTTE blamed it on the army, which denied the allegation as an attempt by the LTTE to cover up its humiliating defeat on the battlefront. What is of concern to the civilized world is not so much who really triggered the explosion but the fact that a group of school children happened to be at the receiving end. That crime must be condemned unreservedly!
The military lacks credibility to convince the discerning public that it wasn`t responsible for that heinous crime. The LTTE has no credibility at all to sell its version of the incident to the world. It has proved how savage it could become in unleashing violence to further its military interests. An outfit that derives a bestial pleasure by shooting, cutting and chopping unarmed civilians including children is capable of anything. Blasting a busload of children is child`s play for a bunch of such savages. They are no respecters of their victims` ethnicity or religion. It was only the other day that the LTTE killers targeted a bus at Buttala with a claymore mine and opened fire on the survivors.
Whoever committed the crime at issue, the blame for pioneering the `claymore culture` must be laid at Prabhakaran`s door. That became his favourite weapon after his promise to plunge the country back into war in 2005. He went on a claymore mine spree in December the same year and ever since scores of mine blasts have been reported from different parts of the country and hundreds of civilians killed. The only way he can wriggle out of the mire he finds himself in at present is to bring international pressure to bear on the government to stall its war effort. Therefore, he will leave no stone unturned in his effort to push the country towards a humanitarian catastrophe and create a situation for his R2P chums to open shop in this country. Killing civilians and creating a food shortage appear to be part of his strategy to achieve that end.
If the army were to prosecute the war with no concern for the collateral damage or target civilians, besides the bestiality of such action, it would play into the hands of the LTTE at this hour of its crisis. The government must conduct a thorough and transparent probe into the incident without brushing aside the views of persons like Bishop Rayappu Joseph and, if the army was responsible for the blast that killed children, bring the culprits to book. Accountability is a hallmark of a professional army.
Meanwhile, the LTTE, which pretends to be shocked by the killing of children, must be told that children are harmed in many other ways. A claymore blast kills a child instantaneously but a child forcibly recruited as a combatant leads a living death. Similarly, using civilians, especially children as a human shield is as barbaric as bombing them, for the end result is the same. So, those who readily believe in the LTTE`s version of an act of atrocity against civilians and promptly condemn the military without inquiry ought to pressure the outfit to desist from attacking civilians, using human shields and conscripting children.
No victory is worth achieving at the expense of hapless civilians, especially children, be it in the North, the East, the West or the South. We join the families of the children who perished in Tuesday`s blast in mourning for them.