Sri Lanka asks aid workers to leave battle zones

September 9th, 2008 - 3:35 am ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Sep 9 (Xinhua) The Sri Lankan government Monday asked the international aid agencies to leave the country’s Northern province as fighting between security forces and Tamil Tiger rebels has intensified, an official said.A senior official of the defence ministry confirmed the order but did not elaborate when it would be implemented.

Defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse said as no development work was taking place in the area, there was no need for the agencies to continue.

He said the government does not want a similar situation to August 2006, when 17 aid workers of a French agency were killed in crossfire between security forces and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

If the aid agencies were allowed to operate in the north, the rebels would use them as human shields to attack government troops, Rajapakse said.

The government said troops have moved to forward positions in the northern districts of Mullaithivu and Kilinochchi, considered strongholds of the LTTE, in the latest assault against the rebels.

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