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Sri Lanka has said that pictures broadcast on Al Jazeera purportedly of a massacre of Tamils during the final stages of the country's civil war are

Sri Lanka has said that pictures broadcast on Al Jazeera purportedly of a massacre of Tamils during the final stages of the country's civil war are "lies".

2010 Nov 12

Keheliya Rambukwella, the media minister, told the AFP news agency on Friday that the photos that shows graphic scenes of piles of dead bodies with hands bound and blindfolded were put together from old material.

The "footage on the killings is nothing but lies" and a collection of "bits and pieces" of a past clip shown on British television, Rambukwella said in a statement.

He said some of the photos, showing such scenes as lines of bodies and corpses with shots to the head in shallow graves, were "fabricated".

Al Jazeera could not verify the authenticity of the images, which were obtained from Tamil contacts. The contacts had said that they received the photos from a member of the Sri Lankan military.

Line of bodies

It is claimed that the photos were taken in the closing months of the country’s long-running conflict that ended 18 months ago.

One of the photos shows a line of bodies, including what is believed to be the body of the son of V Prabhakaran, the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, that was defeated in the civil war.

Photos allege Sri Lanka massacre

Another photo shows the naked body of a young woman and the body of a boy, perhaps in his early teens.

Rajiva Wijesinha, a Sri Lankan MP who is also a former secretary of the country's human rights ministry, had told Al Jazeera that the country has launched an "independent" inquiry into the photos of the alleged massacre.

"We have always said that any allegation will be investigated. We believe that our inquiry going on is perfectly independent," he said.

Sri Lanka has repeatedly rejected international calls for an independent inquiry into the war against the LTTE, in which the UN estimates at least 7,000 Tamil civilians were killed.

Other estimates suggest the figure could be as high as 20,000 and the inference is that many were killed by government shelling.

Colombo's inquiry

Sri Lanka has instead set up its own inquiry, called the "Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission", which critics say is a whitewash.

Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have refused to participate in the inquiry, stating that it does not meet international standards for independent and impartial inquiries.

For more than 25 years, the LTTE waged a secessionist campaign in Sri Lanka that led to it being designated a terrorist organisation by 32 countries.

At one stage in the conflict 300,000 displaced Tamil civilians languished in makeshift camps.

According to the latest figures, there are some 35,000 Tamils left in government camps. There are more than two million Tamils estimated to be in Sri Lanka.

Emergency powers are still in force, and there is a heavy military presence in Tamil areas and more and more Tamils are leaving the country.
Al Jazeera and agencies

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