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Sri Lanka photographs: The home-made civilian bunkers

May 30, 2009
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TimesOnline

Times Online – Sri Lanka photographs: The home-made civilian bunkers

This photograph of wrecked civilian areas inside the no-fire zone was taken by an Agence France-Presse photographer on board the same helicopter flight as The Times on May 23. It shows how trapped civilians built improvised bunkers out of sand, sacks, pillowcases and other household goods to protect themselves against mortar and artillery shells.

The lack of fuel or any military equipment as well as the improvised nature of the camp and its facilities makes it clear that this is a civilian base.

Father Amalraj, a Roman Catholic priest who escaped the no-fire zone on May 16, told The Times how civilians had barely ventured from the camp for two months, except to find food. “The heavy shelling was from the army side,” he said.

The bunkers did not always protect them. A priest and a teacher were killed by shelling in Father Amalraj’s bunker, and buried on the beach.

When he and his parishioners fled, the shelling had become so intense they had little choice.

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