Two LTTE leaders surrender, over 95,000 flee war zone (Second Lead)

April 22nd, 2009 - 6:44 pm ICT by IANS  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, April 22 (IANS) Two second-rung leaders of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) surrendered to the Sri Lankan military as the civilians fleeing the no-fire-zone in the rebel-held area crossed the 95,000 figure, a military spokesman said Wednesday.

The two LTTE leaders were identified as the Tigers’ media coordinator Velayutham Dayanithi alias Daya Master and V.K. Pancharatnam well-known as ‘George’, who was English translator to the late LTTE political wing head S. Thamilselvan.

“These two LTTE leaders surrendered to the troops at Puthumathalan no-fire-zone this (Wednesday) morning,” military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told IANS.

George, a retired postmaster, had been the official translator for political wing head S.P. Thamilselvan, who was killed in a Sri Lankan Air Force raid in November 2007.

He had accompanied Thamilselvan in all the six rounds of peace talks with the Sri Lankan government held between 2002 and 2006 in various foreign capitals.

George is fluent in Tamil, Sinhala and English languages.

Daya Master, a former English teacher at a school in the north, has been coordinating and organising interviews with the LTTE political wing leaders for the local media and foreign media organisations, mainly during the 2002 Norwegian-brokered truce period.

During the previous United National Party (UNP) government, Daya Master was once brought to the Apollo Hospital in Colombo for treatment of his heart ailment.

The surrender of these two LTTE officials has come a day after the LTTE ignored Colombo’s 24-hour ultimatum to surrender.

Brigadier Nanayakkara said that over 95,000 people have fled the LTTE-held areas and entered the government-held areas since Monday morning with the advancing troops cornering the Tamil Tigers into a mere 14 sq km coastal land strip in north-eastern Mullaitivu district.

The total number of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) since the beginning of this year now exceeds 165,000.

“Of the total IDPs (who) crossed over to the government-held areas since the beginning of this year, about 3,000 people have self-confessed that they had functioned as members of the LTTE,” Brig. Nanayakkara said.

Defence spokesman and Minister of Foreign Employment Keheliya Rambukwella said the troops have rapidly advanced into the areas held by the Tamil Tigers and captured fresh territories amid fierce gun-battles.

“The LTTE has only an eight-kilometre strip or about 12 to 14 square kilometres of land area left under their control… The government strongly believes that (the LTTE chief) Vellupillai Prabhakaran is still inside the no-fire zone,” Rambukwella told reporters here Wednesday.

“The LTTE has lost all its military capabilities. They are fighting a losing battle. That is why they are using outside forces (protests in western capitals) to put pressure on us,” the minister said.

The military said that the troops have advanced beyond the Puthumathalan junction in the no-fire-zone and extended their defence line to the eastern edge of the beach “virtually breaking the no-fire-zone into two major portions by Tuesday evening”.

“The troops have thus marked the complete capture of a box-type strip in the Puthumathalan area, including a hospital in the no-fire-zone,” the military said.

As the exodus of civilians from the no-fire-zone continues to rise, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has instructed the Commissioner General of Essential Services to ensure that food, medicines and other essentials are provided to the people.

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