Sri Lankan Navy rescues fleeing civilians

March 18th, 2009 - 6:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, March 18 (Xinhua) The Sri Lankan Navy has rescued a group of civilians fleeing the Tamil Tigers’ last pocket in the northern Mullaittivu district, the military said Wednesday.
Some 550 civilians on 31 boats were fleeing Mullaittivu’s Puttumatalan area Tuesday evening, heading for the northern Jaffna peninsula when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) sea wing tried to stop them.

The Navy chased away the four rebel boats, making possible the civilian boats to make the journey to the Point Pedro area in the Jaffna peninsula, naval officials said here.

The navy said monitoring of the rebel communication indicated that senior Tamil Tiger leaders had tried to stop the civilians from leaving.

The LTTE have faced international condemnation for denying freedom of movement to Tamil civilians trapped in the battle zone.

Some 44,000 civilians, however, have defied the rebels, the government maintains.

The government wants all remaining civilians to leave the area and arrive at government welfare centres in the northern Jaffna and Vavuniya districts.

The government said its military offensive against the LTTE is at final stage as the rebel organisation has been cornered in a small area.

The troops have recaptured most of the LTTE’s 15,000 sq km territories in successive military victories since 2006.

Claiming discrimination at the hands of Sinhalese majority governments, the LTTE began its armed struggle in the 1980s to set up an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east, resulting in the killing of more than 70,000 people.

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