Over 25,000 people face displacement from LTTE-held areas

April 14th, 2008 - 5:23 pm ICT by admin  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, April 14 (IANS) Over 25,000 people, including 6,000 students, in the LTTE-held areas in the north-western Mannar district face displacement as the advancing government troops and the rebels are locked in fierce fighting, official sources here said Monday. “The entire population of the LTTE-held Madhu and Maanthai west Assistant Government Agent division, numbering over 25,000 face displacement due to recent fighting in the area,” Mannar district Government Agent (Chief Administrative Officer) A. Nicholaspillai told IANS on phone from his Mannar office, about 310 km from Colombo.

Claiming that the people of these areas have moved further northwards deep into the LTTE held Kilinochchi area, he said the current rainy season and the resultant flood have worsened their plight.

Nicholaspillai said relief supply to the displaced people had been “seriously affected” and the UN World Food Programme and the Commission General of Essential Services (CGES) of the government were distributing food and other necessary items.

“The people are scattered and managing with temporary shelters. Their situation is not satisfactory,” the Mannar Government Agent said.

He said most of the food and medical supplies for these displaced people were being handled by the Kilinochchi Government Agent with the land entry route through Uyilankulam to the LTTE-held Mannar areas remaining closed for months due to heavy fighting.

Fierce fighting in the Mannar district on the eve of the Tamil-Sinhala New Year has left over 100 combatants killed on both sides, with both the government troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) claiming heavy casualties on the other side.

The government on Sunday claimed that at least 77 Tamil Tiger rebels and 12 army personnel were killed when advancing government troops clashed with LTTE cadres in the northwestern Mannar district on Saturday.

It also said that the advancing government troops, backed by artillery bombardment “gained a significant area of ground” held by the rebels in Mannar after daylong clashes.

However, LTTE’s military spokesperson Rasaiyah Illanthirayan, in a statement Saturday night, claimed that 30 Sri Lankan Army personnel were killed and 75 others injured in the clashes. He conceded only three LTTE deaths in the fighting.

Illanthirayan also said that the military’s pre-dawn four-pronged bid was fiercely thwarted by the rebels with the heavy clashes lasting for well over eight hours.

Independent verifications of the battlefront casualties are not possible as journalists are barred from visiting the battlefront.

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