Colombo: At least 19 civilians were killed and 75 wounded when Tamil rebels fired at hundreds of civilians fleeing Sri Lanka's war zone, the defence ministry said on Tuesday.
The ministry accused the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of carrying out this "cowardly attack at the civilians seeking refuge with the soldiers in Udayarkattukualam Tuesday morning".
It said the dead included two children, five women and 12 men. Another 28 children, 30 women and 17 men were injured.
DESPERATE REBELS: LTTE rebels have been on the backfoot after losing bastion in Wanni.
It said that 1,046 Tamil civilians had reached a military-held area northeast of Udayarkattukulam in Mullaitivu district "amidst raging LTTE small arms fire".
The troops immediately flew out the critically wounded civilians to Anuruadhapura and Vavuniya towns.
It was the second attack of its kind in as many days. Thirty soldiers and eight civilians were killed Monday when a female suicide bomber exploded herself in the midst of Tamils trying to leave the war zone.
The bomber blew herself up when the soldiers were frisking the civilians entering government-held areas in Mullaitivu district.
The attack has drawn worldwide condemnation. The UN demanded that the civilians "must be distinguished from combatants and protected from the fighting".
There has been no word from the LTTE on the two killings.