Colombo, May 4 (ANI): Child soldiers, including girls as young as 11, have been forced to fight on the front line by retreating Tamil Tiger rebels, senior Sri Lankan army officers have claimed.
According to The Telegraph, division commanders have described the discovery of a conscript army of children as they stood on the edge of the 'no fire zone' where 50,000 civilians are believed to be trapped by the once-feared Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elaam (LTTE) making their last stand.As both sides in the conflict traded claims of war crimes, one army commander spoke of his regret that his men had shot and killed young girls.
Brigadier Priyantha, who commands an artillery division in the north told The Daily Telegraph: "It's like looking at your own child. Quite large numbers [of the dead] are under 16.
"They grab them from their parents and they try to pull them back they get shot. These children have the dog tags and cyanide capsules. The younger children [captured] go for rehabilitation programme."
His colleague, an officer who identified himself as 'Roan' said: "Considerable numbers of the dead [are] child soldiers. The youngest was around 12."
At Puthumatalan Lagoon, Major-General Jaggath Dias, General Officer Commanding of the 57th Division, said his men had been fighting with girls.
"Girls as young as eleven. Our soldiers have seen them on the front line. It's very difficult to shoot a child. But it does not matter what age, you have to shoot," he said. (ANI)