Colombo: To counter growing allegations of war crimes against the military, Sri Lankan government on Thursday said it would carry out a census of civilians killed during the country's bloody war with Tamil Tigers, and take action against the guilty.

"If there are any specific allegations or evidence of crimes therein, investigations will be undertaken and necessary action taken against those involved," Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said here.

In a major shift from the government's earlier stand of defending the army, Gotabhaya, who is a younger brother of President admitted for the first time that military could have committed excess for which he blamed that some rogue elements could have got commissioned into the Army.

"In the circumstances, it is possible that a few individuals who lacked the capacity to withstand the pressures of warfare with the required composure may have been recruited," he said.

"As a result of the census we will know the real number of dead and missing, which is far too small to provide any substance to absurd allegations of genocide and war crimes that have been made," Gotabhaya said.

A UN report released recently claimed that tens of thousands of civilians may have been killed in the final months of the decade long war, a claim that Lankan government has refuted.

Addressing the inaugural national conference on reconciliation, Rajapaksa who spearheaded the victorious military campaign against the LTTE said, the government will act on the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) even if it meant taking action against those responsible for rights abuses.

The LLRC report was handed over to president Mahinda Rajapaksa last week.

He also said that the government census department has been tasked to carry out the census, the result of which would be made public.

The commission looked back at the debilitating ethnic conflict which raged in the island for over three decades.

He said during the three and a half year period of the military campaign the Sri Lankan military had to be expanded at a rapid pace.

Rajapaksa however was critical on the international community which has been pressing the island for alleged war crimes accountability after a special UN panel report in April accused the government and the LTTE both of committing war crimes during the final military battle.

Rajapaksa said, "Sri Lanka will act on its own accord. As a sovereign nation with a rich culture and a proud heritage, Sri Lanka does not need external guidance to achieve reconciliation.

This will be achieved through an organic, local effort consistent with our culture and our values, and not based on external ideal others try to impose on us".

People living in the United States of America, or Australia, or Canada, or the United Kingdom, or any other country, have no proper understanding of the ground situation in Sri Lanka nor do they understand Sri Lanka's current cultural context. "It is not for outsiders to impose their values or their judgments on Sri Lanka. It is the same Sri Lankans who suffered from the ravages of LTTE terrorism for thirty years and who are now reaping the rewards of peace that will find solutions to our national issues—not outsiders".

Rajapaksa, the younger brother of the president rubbished claims about the high number of civilians killed and missing during the last stages of the conflict.

"Some say 10,000 people were killed; others say 40,000, and a few make claims for even higher numbers.     I strongly emphasise that these are arbitrary figures with no basis in reality," he emphasised.

Rajapaksa said results of a census soon awaited will vouch for the lesser numbers killed.

(Agencies)