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Sri Lanka says suspected wartime mass grave is an old cemetery

Published on Mar 8, 2014 3:38 AM

COLOMBO (REUTERS) - Officials investigating a suspected mass grave in Sri Lanka's former northern war zone called off the digging on Friday because the 83 skeletons unearthed there seem to have been buried in an old cemetery.

The Sri Lankan army has been accused of killing tens of thousands of civilians in the final weeks of its 26-year war against northern Tamil separatists in 2009 and Colombo has been under pressure to investigate reports of mass graves there.

Police at first suggested the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) separatists could be responsible for the burial site near a Hindu temple in the northwestern town of Mannar.

But Senerath Dissanayake, director general of the state-run Archeological Department, said it is not a mass grave as the bodies had been "buried systematically".

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