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Tamil Rebels Accuse Military of Using Napalm Bombs

March 21, 1996

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Tamil rebels today accused government forces of dropping napalm bombs on a refugee camp in northern Sri Lanka, killing 16 civilians.

The military denied the claim and it could not be confirmed independently because journalists are not permitted to visit war zones in the north.

In a statement issued in London, the rebels said two helicopter gunships dropped the napalm on a half-mile-square area near Nachchikuda on Saturday, killing 16 people, including seven children.

Another 60 people were injured in the attack, nearly 160 miles north of Colombo, the statement said.

The military initially denied that a helicopter gunship attack had taken place, but later said two Ukrainian-built MI-24 helicopters fired rockets at a guerrilla base at Nachchikuda on Sunday.

At least 30 rebels were killed and many others injured, said Maj. Tilak Dunuwille.

``The helicopters don’t use napalm bombs, only rockets,″ Dunuwille said.

Veerakesari, a Tamil language newspaper, quoted travelers from north as saying that eight people were killed and 55 wounded in that attack.

The guerrillas have been fighting for a homeland in northern and eastern Sri Lanka for minority Tamils since 1983. They accuse the Sinhalese majority of widespread discrimination in education and jobs. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the fighting.

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