Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe has said the government does not agree with civil war death toll figures published in a recent UN report, but added that it is willing to verify and get back to the world body on the issue.
Speaking with Indian television channel Thanthi TV in an exclusive interview, Wickremasinghe said, “The UN report talks of the last phase of the war, where large numbers of people were killed. The numbers are in dispute. UN report says 40,000...Some of the official reports say 5000... I don't think it would come even up to 40,000... We are willing to verify it. Sri Lanka had to fight a war...LTTE used the civilians as a shield... Then what happened there, is what we have to inquire into... Was it that they were used as a shield and you couldn't avoid the casualties or, was it that you could avoid some casualties and you didn’t do so? We are not trying to cover any thing up. We are dealing with the UN.”
On the allegation that genocide had taken place against Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister had said, “I would say that a large number of people of Sri Lanka, including a large number of Tamils were killed in the conflict. Some of them are casualties of war. Some are killed for no reason at all. Deaths have been partly due to the operations of the Sri Lankan Army, security forces, partly due to the operations of the IPKF, partly due to the operations of the LTTE.” (Business Standard)