United Nation: Majority of civilian casualties in the final phase of war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) in 2009 was caused by the Sri Lankan government, according to a UN report.

"Most civilian casualties in the final phases of the war were caused by government shelling. The government systematically shelled hospitals on all fronts. The government also deprived people in conflict zone of humanitarian aid in the form of food and medical supplies, particularly surgical supplies, adding to their suffering," said the report, which was officially released on Monday.

The UN panel estimated that 40,000 people were killed in the war.

"The panel's determination of credible allegations reveals a very different version of the final stages of the war than that maintained to this day by the government," it said.

Extracts of the report, which was leaked earlier, state that there were credible allegations, which if proven, indicate that a wide range of serious violations of international humanitarian law and international rights law was committed both by the government of Sri

Lanka and the LTTE, some of which would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The UN said Sri Lankan government had not yet responded to its offer to publish the government response along with the report.
The report also documents alleged human rights violations committed by the Tamil Tigers including using civilians as human shields.

A statement from the UN said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would not be able to set up an independent investigation without government cooperation.

"In regard to the recommendation that he establish an international investigation mechanism, the Secretary-General is advised that this will require host country consent or a decision from Member States through an appropriate intergovernmental forum," the report said.

The US also called for the Sri Lankan government to respond constructively to the report.

"We strongly support the Secretary General's call for the Sri Lankan authorities to respond constructively to the report and underscore our belief that accountability and reconciliation are inextricably linked," she added.

The UN also said that Ban "regrets the inflammatory tone of some of the recent public statements emanating from Sri Lanka."

(Agencies)