Sri Lanka concludes combat operations against LTTE (Lead)

April 27th, 2009 - 2:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, April 27 (IANS) The Sri Lankan government Monday announced that its combat operations against the Tamil Tigers had ended.
Amid mounting international concern for the plight of civilians in the island’s war-zone, a statement from the presidential secretariat said security forces had been ordered to stop using “heavy guns, aerial weapons and combat aircraft” and rescue civilians.

“Government of Sri Lanka has decided that combat operations have reached their conclusion. Our security forces have been instructed to end the use of heavy caliber guns, combat aircraft and aerial weapons which could cause civilian casualties,” the statement from President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s office said.

“Our security forces will confine their attempts to rescuing civilians who are held hostage and give foremost priority to saving civilians,” it said.

The government decision comes at a time when the UN humanitarian chief John Holmes is in the country “to assess… the needs of tens of thousands of civilians who fled rebel-held areas or remain trapped in the war-zone”.

More than 100,000 civilians have fled the war zone as the Sri Lankan military gained control over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) held area, now reduced to less than eight square kilometres in the country’s northeast. There is still no news about the LTTE’s chief Vellupillai Prabhakaran.

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