Rajapaksa appeals to world community to exert pressure on LTTE

April 18th, 2009 - 10:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, April 18 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa Saturday urged the international community to exert pressure on the Tamil Tigers to free civilians, instead of asking him to pause the military operation, to defeat terrorism in the island nation.
“The LTTE has been holding thousands of civilians hostage in the Wanni. I ask the international community to put pressure on LTTE to give these people freedom for just one hour, then they all will come over (to) the government-held areas,” Rajapaksa told a group of doctors and farmers here.

The remarks have come amid mounting international pressure for a longer pause in the fighting in the northeastern Mullaitivu district for the civilians to ensure their safety exit.

“Instead of asking me to stop the ongoing humanitarian operation, the international organisations should exert pressure on LTTE (to free civilians),” a statement from the President’s Office quoted Rajapaksa as saying at the meeting in his tightly guarded official residence, Temple Trees.

Rajapaksa Thursday paid a surprise visit to Kilinochchi and addressed troops who captured the region from the Tamil Tigers in January, ending a decade of rebel rule.

Rajapaksa, who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, is the first head of state to have visited Kilinochchi, after the first Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake who had toured the area in the early 1950s.

The military, which claims to have cornered the LTTE into a 14 sq km of coastal strip in Mullaitivu, says it is close to finally vanquishing the once formidable Tamil Tigers.

Addressing another political meeting in Colombo, Rajapaksa said that what was now left “for the Tigers who had pushed the country into the brink of collapse during the past three decades is to commit suicide by either swallowing cyanide (capsule) or jumping into the lagoon”.

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