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News


Govt. insists 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.

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