Rajapaksa asks civilians to cross over to government areas

May 1st, 2009 - 7:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, May 1 (IANS) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Friday appealed to thousands of Tamil civilians trapped in Tamil Tigers-held no-fire zone in the country’s northeast to cross over to areas controlled by the government.
“I appeal to every one of you to come over to the cleared areas. My government will give utmost priority to ensure the safety and welfare of each and every one of you,” Rajapaksa said in a message.

According to the president’s office, the leaflets carrying the appeal were air dropped in the no-fire-zone Friday.

“I am aware of the tremendous difficulties faced by the civilians who are unfortunately being held hostage by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers if Tamil Ealem).”

“Your suffering is prolonged by this action of the LTTE, who are holding you as human shields for their own safety and security,” Rajapaksa said.

The Sri Lankan military says that the LTTE, which has been fighting to carve out a separate country in the northern and eastern regions for over two decades, has now been cornered into a small coastal land strip of less than 10 square km and is “facing an inevitable defeat”.

Addressing a function Thursday, Rajapaksa ruled out halting the ongoing military campaign against the LTTE and said the time is running out for the rebels to surrender.

“We have never gone for a ceasefire with the LTTE and will never go for a ceasefire with them,” said Rajapaksa at a rally at Embilipitiya, 200 km south of here.

“The Tigers have little time left to drop their weapons and surrender even though our military operation is at a final stage,” Rajapaksa said amid applause from his audience.

Over 115,000 people have left the LTTE-held areas and have come to the government-held areas since April 20.

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