Home » News

Tamil Tigers penned in ‘five mile enclave’

[Telegraph, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 14:40 No Comment]

He was speaking as the flight of civilians from the shrinking strip of land under the rebels’ control passed 100,000, according to Western diplomats and aid agencies.

 

Civilians arriving at holding camps in the north told humanitarian agencies of their relief to finally escape the fighting and of their frustration at attempts by the Tamil Tigers to stop them leaving the "no-fire zone".

 

Diplomats said the narrow zone, which had been 12 square miles in size had now been cut in two by Sri Lankan Army raids, with almost all the civilians now being held in the tiny southern enclave.

 

The army is now believed to be focusing on clearing the north before making a final assault on the remaining LTTE leadership in the south.

 

The flight of civilians from the zone swelled from a trickle to a mass exodus – described by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the "largest-ever hostage rescue mission in history" – after government troops destroyed a defensive structure which had halted their advance in the north on Monday.

 

New government photographs showed refugees climbing out of boats onto a beach, many helping sick relatives, or carrying children.

 

Diplomats in Colombo said there were clear indications of a vast flight of more than 100,000 people but no evidence that the Sri Lankan Army had taken any more territory from the LTTE.

 

The Sri Lankan ministry of defence said yesterday its forces had reached the west coast of the no fire zone and that it had split the zone into two, while diplomats said the Tamil Tigers themselves had been moving civilians into the southern part of the enclave since government troops attacked in the north.

 

"There are now few civilians in the northern part, and the government can now clear it. There are however significant numbers remaining in the south, and we estimate there are between 50,000 and 100,000 still there. The real impact of the last few days is still not clear," said one Western diplomat.

 

The government yesterday claimed the LTTE’s former spokesman, known as ‘Daya Master’ had surrendered along with another senior figure who had represented the group in the Oslo peace talks.

[Full Coverage]

(For updates you can share with your friends, follow TNN on Facebook, Twitter and Google+)

Comments are closed.