Twenty seven lorries flying Red Cross flags wended their way on 30 September through the thick Tamil Tiger-held Vanni jungles of northern Sri Lanka into government military territory. The lorries were not carrying medical supplies or food. Instead, 600 or so decomposing bodies made up the convoy´s macabre cargo. These were the remains of soldiers that had been handed over to the Red Cross by the rebels following a bloody battle in northern Sri Lanka some days before.

For a government which had been claiming that the civil war was 95 percent won, September´s fighting was a debacle. After a two-day siege, the Tamil Tigers captured Kilinochchi, a key military base in the northern battlefield; the Sri Lankan military had to be content with a consolation prize – the capture of Mankulam, a rebel-held town some kilometres south of Kilinochchi.

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Himal Southasian