‘No fire zones’ for war displaced Sri Lankan civilians

October 4th, 2008 - 11:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Oct 4 (IANS) The Sri Lankan Army has earmarked two “no fire zones” in the restive north for the safe assembly of thousands of civilians fleeing amidst fierce fighting between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels, a top military official here said. Sri Lankan Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka said Friday the military has allocated these two “no fire zones” in the north-eastern Mullaitivu district following a directive from the government.

“Two square 10 km ‘no fire zones’ in Vishvamadu and Oddusuddan in Mullaitivu have been earmarked for assembly of internally displaced civilians (IDPs) by the army taking notice of the exodus of civilians away from areas where fighting is currently on,” the army chief told reporters in the north-central Anuradhapura town Friday.

He said his troops “are now closing in on Kilinochchi town limits taking every precautionary measure to avoid civilian casualties during the forward march”.

“Therefore, such demarcated areas could be used by civilians to avoid any harm to them,” the army headquarters quoted the army chief as saying.

Claiming that the troops were operating about two kilometres away from the town limits of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s (LTTE) administrative capital of Kilinochchi, the army headquarters said the displaced “civilians can use this as a safe passage to arrive in Vavuniya (government-held areas) as they have already been informed by the government”.

The allocation of “no fire zone” came amid fierce fighting that left at least 11 Tamil Tiger guerillas killed and 21 wounded.

There was no word from the LTTE regarding the latest fighting, but reports say the civilians in and around the Kilinochchi town have moved eastwards deeper into the rebel-held areas.

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