|LTTE territory has shrunk to 600 sq km: President Rajapaksa|
|Wednesday, 14 January 2009|
COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa believes that the LTTE and its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran are presently confined to a minuscule area 30 km in length and 20 km in breadth in the northeastern district of Mullaitivu.
Over the last few days the rebels lost about 1,000 sq kms, shrinking area under their control rapidly.
Interacting with foreign journalists over dinner here on Monday, Rajapaksa said that Mullaitivu town had all but fallen because it was being attacked from the west, south and the north giving the LTTE no chance to stem the assault.
Asked when the war as such would be over, he said he hoped to end it in about two-and-a half months.
The President accused the LTTE of holding the Tamil civilians in Mullaitivu district hostage to be used as a human shield.
He claimed that civilians had had to pay SLRs 100,000 to the LTTE to migrate to government-held areas. Although there were only about 1,700 to 1900 LTTE fighters now, the outfit was guarding all the exit points to prevent civilians from fleeing, he said.
When journalists pointed out that so far only 1,168 persons had come away from the LTTE held areas and that it was possible that they did not want to come out, the President said that it was unthinkable that any civilian would want to stay on in a war-zone.
The LTTE was exaggerating the number of civilians who were trapped, Rajapaksa maintained.
“It is not 300,000 but less than 100,000,” he said.
Asked what Sri Lanka would be like without Prabhakaran, Rajapaksa smiled and said: “We’ll see!”. And asked if there was a chance that power would be devolved to the Tamil minority to solve the basic ethnic question, he avoided giving a direct answer, saying, “Once the LTTE is defeated, we’ll hold elections in those areas. Let the people vote for who they want,” he said.
On the burning issue of assaults on the media in south Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa said that his government was being blamed unfairly and illogically for the killing of ‘The Sunday Leader’ editor Lasantha Wickrematunge and the burning of the studios of Maharaja TV. “Will a government which is at the height of its popularity ever do anything to make itself unpopular?” he asked.
“I have told the police to investigate these incidents thoroughly, and find out who is behind them,” the President said.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 14 August 2009 )|
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