Army denies using cluster bombs

(Podcast below) The army denied using cluster bombs during the war and has sought clarification from a UN demining official over an alleged email sent out to some foreign news agencies regarding this.

Army spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasekera said that the email had reportedly been based on claims made by Allan Poston, the technical adviser for the U.N. Development Program’s mine action group in Sri Lanka.

He said that the Sri Lankan authorities have urged Poston to provide the details he has over his claims that cluster bombs had been recovered in Puthukudiyiruppu so the army can conduct its own investigations.

“However I would like to stress that neither the Army, Navy or Air Force used cluster bombs during the war,” the army spokesman told Colombo Gazette.

A report from a U.N. demining expert had said that unexploded cluster munitions were found in northern Sri Lanka, appearing to confirm, for the first time, that they were used in that country’s long civil war.

The ordnance, which sprays dozens of small bomblets, is controversial when used in heavily populated areas like northern Sri Lanka because it can’t be precisely targeted and poses greater risk of hitting noncombatants. The bomblets that fail to detonate often kill civilians long after fighting ends.

An email obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday from a top U.N. demining expert said unexploded cluster bomblets were discovered in the Puthukudiyiruppu area, where a girl was killed last month and her sister injured as they tried to pry apart an explosive device they had found to sell for scrap metal.

(Report by Easwaran Rutnam for Colombo Gazette)