Sri Lankan officials have rebuffed international calls for a peace treaty with the rebel group Tamil Tigers, claiming that it is very near to eliminating the remaining section of the group. The Tigers, whose ultimate goal is an independent state for people of the Tamil ethnicity, exist largely as a reaction to a lack of “government-financed development of schools, infrastructure, housing in the Tamil areas of the north …political autonomy,” and “Tamils being accepted into the military, the police and the civil service.” However, the group often resorts to violent tactics targeting civilians. While the Tigers are currently a uniformed group, they do employ both male and female suicide bombers in civilian clothing for political assassinations. Some fear that an elimination of their military capacity will cause the Tigers to increase their aggression against citizens, particularly in Sri Lankan capital Colombo.
The casualties of the struggle extend to unarmed civilians. Aid organizations estimate that as many as 250,000 civilians may be trapped in the area in which the fighting is taking place, although Sri Lanka estimates that the number is closer to 100,000. There is much doubt as to whether the civilians are capable of leaving the region. One of the few hospitals in the area was recently shelled in the cross-fire, causing 14 deaths, as well as an evacuation of the hospital. While it is unclear who attacked the hospital and to what degree the attack was intentional, it represents a clear violation of international law.