trapped civilians 120,000
The government Friday
rejected the statistics of over 250,000 civilians trapped in the
Wanni and insisted that the number was less than 120,000.
Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe noted during a
briefing for diplomats that he had reconciled the figures with
the statistics submitted by the Government Agents of Mullaitivu
and Kilinochchi and research conducted by the Ministry of Nation
Building, which showed that one third of the list had been
duplicated. Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka giving a
comprehensive presentation said that troops are now strongly
engaging the enemy positions in Viswamadu area, which is
regarded as the last main stronghold of the terrorists. He
mentioned that 15,416 LTTE cadres have been killed and 12,611
were injured during the past two and half years’ operations.
He said the LTTE has moved heavy artillery guns namely, 152mm,
122mm and 130mm and positioned in the safe zone/no fire zone
after the GOSL announcement to people to move to those
identified areas. Furthermore, he said the LTTE has given
two-three days military training to elderly and middle-aged
civilians and they have been deployed in the forward defence
lines (FDL) with one trained LTTE cadre.
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa replying to a
question on the message of the President to civilians trapped
said the Air Force has dropped leaflets to the areas where
people gathered and briefed the government officials and
international organisation operating in those areas.
He said the ground commanders are being informed of the
procedures to be followed on the security of those civilians
crossing over to security forces held areas. So far nearly 6,000
civilians have crossed over to government areas and there were
no reports of deaths during crossing over besides the killing of
10 civilians due to LTTE firing. The GOSL has mooted a programme
to look after those who have come to safe areas.
He requested the support of the international community
including the ICRC and the UN to exert pressure on the LTTE to
allow safe passage of the civilians to secure environment.