Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal expressed frustration on Saturday over Sri Lanka's failure to punish military personnel responsible for atrocities in a civil war that the government won in 2009 against separatist Tamil rebels.
               
Biswal, speaking in Colombo after a two-day visit, said the United States would table a third U.N. human rights resolution against Sri Lanka in March to address the war crimes allegations as its human rights climate has been worsening.
               
"The (U.S.) claims... are unsubstantiated. Reckless and irresponsible statements without evidence have been recoursed to in order to create an impact to give way to prejudged action," Sri Lanka's External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
               
In her criticism, Biswal also referred to attacks on mosques and churches on the island and said some Sri Lankans felt unable to practise their faith "freely and without fear".
               
Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese are largely Buddhist and its ethnic Tamil minority is mainly Hindu. The country also has small Christian and Muslim minorities.
               
"POLITICALLY MOTIVATED"
               
The ministry said claims of religious intolerance were based on an attempt to present isolated incidents as commonplace.
               
"Attributing blame to the government is totally unwarranted.
               
While legal action has been taken with regard to some incidents, others have been settled amicably. Therefore, the criticism is grossly disproportionate and politically motivated," it said.

(Agencies)

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