2008–2009 Sri Lankan Army Northern Offensive - Casualties


The UN estimated in May 2009, that 7,000 civilians had been killed and another 16,700 had been wounded between January 20 and May 7, 2009, and another 1,000 were killed in heavy artillery bombardments by the SLA forces in the last week of fighting. Both the Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE were blamed for the civilian deaths. Another 396 civilians were killed between January and September 2008.

The Times newspaper has reported that as many as 20,000 civilians were killed in the Safe Zone. Some of the deaths were caused by the Tamil Tigers but most were as a result of shelling by the Sri Lankan military. The UN had previously estimated that 6,500 civilians had been killed in the three months to the middle of April, meaning that the death toll soared to 1,000 each day in the final two weeks of the war. The UN says it has no confirmed estimates of civilian casualties and the Sri Lankan government has denied the Times' allegations. The Guardian newspaper, quoting another U.N. official, called the Times' figure as a "dangerous extrapolation". The Guardian also questioned many underlying assumption of the Time's figure.

The SLA stated that, by January 6, 2009, they had killed up to 4,073 LTTE militants in the previous fourteen months, most of them in the north. In contrast the LTTE said they lost 2,200 fighters during 2008. Another 2,515 LTTE militants were reported to have been killed between January and May 2009. The SLA also reported at the end of October they suffered 1,270 soldiers killed in the whole country, only around a dozen were not killed in the north.

Following the implementation of the new government policy in late October to not reveal military casualties the only sources on the numbers of SLA dead were the ones from pro–LTTE sources. There were also several sporadic reports by the SLA to counter-act the reports by the Tigers in the propaganda war. According to reports of the pro–LTTE website Tamilnet and those several military reports, a conservative estimate had been made that hundreds of SLA soldiers had been killed since then. However, in mid-January 2009, the military confirmed that 3,700 soldiers had been killed in the previous three years of fighting and another 16,000 were wounded in the recent offensive. With 1,325 confirmed dead in 2006 and 2007, that would make a total of 2,375 killed in 2008, with less than a hundred not killed in the north. Also, more than 1,200 soldiers were estimated to had died in 2009.

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