Sri Lanka's civil war rages in the shadows
Sat Oct 4, 2008.
By RAVI NESSMAN
MADHU, Sri Lanka (AP) — There are no worshippers at Sri Lanka's holiest Christian shrine.
The cherished statue of the Virgin Mary in the pale yellow church gazes out onto emptiness. The two villages nearby are abandoned. Everyone has fled for safety deep into rebel territory, disappearing into the black hole of Sri Lanka's civil war.
The conflict — deadlier this year than the fighting in Afghanistan — has grown increasingly ferocious as a new government offensive pushes deep into the rebels' power base in the northern jungles.
Yet it is taking place mostly in the shadows. The government has barred independent observers and foreign journalists from the war zone. Last month it banned foreign aid groups as well, promising to make up for their absence by providing aid itself.
That leaves the military and rebel-linked Web sites as the only source of information on the course of the war, the growing number of casualties, and the plight of some 220,000 displaced civilians trapped in the shrinking territory controlled by the Tamil
Published: Sat Oct 4 10:12:19 EDT 2008