Sri Lanka’s holiday truce begins, LTTE kills soldier (Lead)

April 13th, 2009 - 4:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, April 13 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s temporary truce with the Tamil Tigers began Monday to mark the Sinhala and Tamil New Year even as the rebels killed a soldier in a sniper attack, the military said.
Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fired a mortar wounding one soldier and killing another in a sniper attack in Puthukkudiyiruppu in Mullaitivu district.

“Other than this, things are smooth in the battle area,” he said, stressing that all the offensive operations by the troops had been halted.

Confident of defeating the LTTE militarily, President Mahinda Rajapaksa Sunday ordered his troops to strictly adhere to “defensive operations” against the Tigers during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year Tuesday.

Announcing the temporary truce, Rajapaksa urged the LTTE, cornered in a 14 sq km coastal strip, should make use of the temporary truce to free thousands of civilians under its control in the north-eastern Mullaitivu district.

Rajapaksa, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, said it was time for the LTTE “to acknowledge its military defeat and lay down its weapons and surrender” to the armed forces to avoid a facing a complete rout.

The declaration of a pause in the fight-to-finish campaign against the LTTE came amid mounting international concern for the safety of thousands of civilians trapped in a small strip of coastal land in the island’s north-eastern Mullaitivu district.

The UN last week said that over 100,000 civilians were “trapped in the 14 sq km no-fire zone”. Sri Lanka’s donor Co-Chairs comprising the US, the EU, Japan and Norway stressed “the importance of a humanitarian pause” in the fighting to ensure the safety of the civilians in the war-zone.

There has been no response from the LTTE regarding the unilateral halt in fighting by the government.

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