Lankan forces in no hurry to corner LTTE in safe zone

April 6th, 2009 - 2:56 pm ICT by ANI  

Colombo, Apr.6 (ANI): Sri Lankan Government troops have said that they are in no hurry to storm a safe zone to pursue Tamil Tiger rebels in the north-east.

The country’s defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapakse said: “We have no plans of going into the safe zone immediately. Our aim is to get the civilians safely out of the no-fire zone. So, we are watching at the moment.”

He was speaking in an interview with the BBC.

His comments follow warnings by aid agencies that there may be heavy civilian casualties if the rebels fight back against the army’s move to enter the safe zone.

It is estimated that there are between 40,000 and 100,000 civilians trapped in the safe zone, which is about 20 sq km of coastal area.

Rajapakse, the senior most civilian official in charge of the war, said there were indications that the civilians were lining up to leave the area as well.

More than 60,000 civilians have already fled the war zone in recent months and they have been housed in government-run relief centres and camps in the northern region.

“I don’t think the Tamil Tigers can be a viable force any more. There are reports that there are lots of dissensions within the rebels. They can always surrender,” Rajapakse said.

The defence official once again denied allegations that security forces were firing into the safe zone.

The United Nations says more than 2,800 civilians may have been killed and 7,000 others injured in the fighting in the north-east in the last two months.

The government disputes these figures. (ANI)

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