Home » News

Tamil Tigers announce plan to surrender and end Sri Lanka war

[Telegraph, Sunday, 17 May 2009 11:16 No Comment]

The Tamil Tigers appear today to have surrendered their fight against the Sri Lankan government, announcing that they are laying down their arms to try to halt the army’s assault on remaining pockets of resistance.

The Tigers’ head of international relations, Selvarajah Pathmanathan, said in a statement released on TamilNet that its war with the Sri Lankan government had reached its "bitter end" and they had decided to "silence their guns".

"We remain with one last choice – to remove the last weak excuse of the enemy for killing our people. We have decided to silence our guns," Pathmanathan said.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s move follows international pleas for a halt to the fighting and UN claims that Colombo had triggered a bloodbath. As many as 80,000 civilians are thought to be trapped with the cornered rebels in a tiny coastal strip under continual artillery bombardment.

Tiger leaders were said to be preparing to kill themselves rather than be captured.

Reports filtering out from the "no-fire zone" – the government-designated haven where non-combatants were supposed to be able to escape the fighting – claim thousands of civilians have been killed.

"It is hard to think of a worse place on earth to be right now than on that stretch of beach," said James Elder, the Unicef spokesman in Sri Lanka, as he struggled to contain his emotions.

Downing Street said the British prime minister Gordon Brown had made several phone calls yesterday to the Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, urging him to end the violence. His pleas were ignored.

The Sri Lankan military said the Tigers, which have used the trapped civilians as human shields in an attempt to keep the army at bay, were detonating their ammunition dumps.

There were no reliable figures ­available for civilian casualties, but with tens of thousands of people crammed into an area of less than a square mile, humanitarian agencies feared the worst.

The military said last night that 10,000 civilians had breached the Tigers’ inner cordon and were being shepherded to safety under fire from the rebels. Elder said those who remained were at the mercy of "indiscriminate firing" from all sides. "It is a bloodbath. It is a catastrophic situation," he said. "We are seeing a complete disregard for civilian life. Everyone’s worst-case scenario is coming to pass."

About 20,000 people are believed to have escaped from the no-fire zone between Thursday and Friday afternoon, but Elder said many of those who had managed to get out were in a terrible condition.

"When you look at the state of the first people to leave three weeks ago, there were malnourished children and women, and people with gunshot wounds and shrapnel injuries, and these people now have been there for another three weeks with next to nothing to eat in terrible conditions. It is going to be a nightmare," he said.

Gordon Weiss, the UN spokesman, said reliable reports from inside the war zone had dried up after the "courageous" doctors who had been working out of the last makeshift hospital at Mullaivaikal East primary school were forced to abandon the building in the face of heavy fighting on Friday. "We are most concerned about the fate of the 30,000 to 80,000 people who are left inside the combat zone," he said. "This is precisely the situation we feared all along – that they would be left inside at the penultimate moments of the battle."

On Friday, the Sri Lankan army completed a pincer movement to surround the Tigers, seizing control of the coastline and cutting off the rebel group’s escape route to the sea. The whereabouts of the group’s leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, and other senior commanders are not known.

[Full Coverage]

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

Comments are closed.