COLOMBO - Nearly 8,000 people, including 550 children below the age of 10, were killed in Sri Lanka’s war-torn north during a final offensive to crush Tamil rebels, the census department said Saturday. Another 6,350 people went missing after government forces finally crushed the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009, the department said in an 80-page report. The figures are in stark contrast to estimates by international rights groups, which say up to 40,000 civilians perished in the final months of the civil war and have heavily criticised Sri Lanka’s treatment of civilians.