COLOMBO: Six years after the end of its bloody civil war, Sri Lanka this week took historic steps to confront its traumatic past — but in the conflict-torn Tamil heartland of Jaffna, people are still searching for justice. A long-awaited report from the United Nations human rights office on Wednesday laid bare horrific wartime atrocities committed by both the army and the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in the bitter 37-year war. It came as President Maithripala Sirisena’s new government vowed to punish war criminals, with a promise to set up a truth commission and a reparations office to help heal the wounds left by the conflict. Its conciliatory stance is in striking contrast to that of strongman former leader Mahinda Rajapakse, who insisted his troops did not kill a single Tamil minority civilian, despite compelling evidence to the contrary. “That (denial) was the biggest mistake Sri Lanka made,” government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said.