COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- The last functioning hospital in the northern Sri Lanka war zone has closed in the face of fighting between troops and Tamil rebels, U.N. officials say.
Pudukkudiyiruppu Hospital in Sri Lanka's Vanni region, which has been struck by artillery shells nine times in four days, closed Wednesday as medical staff evacuated patients in the middle of ongoing hostilities, CNN reported.
"Our staff has been dug down into bunkers for the past 18 hours under sustained artillery fire, which included cluster munitions this morning," U.N. spokesman Gordon Weiss said in Colombo. "We hold grave fears for the safety of these (workers). It also includes 81 staff members who are dug down in these bunkers."
The International Committee of the Red Cross told CNN the shelling of the hospital has left at least 14 people dead and 10 wounded.
The Sri Lanka military officials say they know the coordinates of the hospital and wouldn't have fired on it, suggesting that rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam may have begun desperately firing shells indiscriminately. One of those could have hit the hospital, they told the U.S. broadcaster.