|Tamil Tigers tacitly admit losing ground to Sri Lankan govt|
|Thursday, 21 August 2008|
COLOMBO (AFP) — Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels Tuesday tacitly admitted they were losing ground in the face of a major military offensive by warning that thousands of civilians in the north were at risk.In their first public acknowledgement that government forces were moving deeper into areas previously held by them, the Tigers said civilians have had to move several times because of the military onslaught.
"Persistent shelling in this area, where two weeks ago a large number of internally displaced people sought refuge, forced them to (move) again further inside Kilinochchi," the Tigers said, referring to their political capital."Such multiple displacements are also adding to the delays in providing adequate shelter," the Tigers said in a statement.The Sri Lankan government, which pulled out of a Norwegian-brokered ceasefire with the rebels in January, says its troops are advancing on several fronts in their bid to dismantle the Tamil Tigers' northern mini-state.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who have been fighting for a separate ethnic state since 1972, accused the military of shelling civilian settlements."Many of the internally displaced people, who are yet to receive temporary shelter and are thus still living under trees, are struggling to seek shelter from the rain," the LTTE said.The Sri Lankan government denied the rebel claims and said authorities were providing food and shelter to displaced civilians living in areas still under rebel control.
"Sri Lanka is a unique case of a government maintaining its offices and funding the administration in territories unlawfully occupied by a terrorist group," the foreign ministry said in a statement.It said urgent measures had been taken to provide adequate food and shelter to the displaced people and extra facilities were being built in government-controlled areas near battle zones.
"Plans are under way to settle them in shelters located in safe areas prior to the commencement of the new school term. There is absolutely no truth in the reports of internally displaced people living under trees," the ministry said.More than 112,000 people have been displaced in the past two months by heavy fighting between the rebels and troops, aid agencies said last week.Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's defence ministry said 30 more rebels were killed in the latest clashes across the north on Monday.The military put their own casualties at seven injured.
"Terrorists are now fleeing the areas in numbers following extensive military ground and air assaults," the ministry said.The figures raise to 5,964 the number of rebels the government claims it has killed since January.
The ministry, which blocks media access to the front lines and rebel areas, has acknowledged losing 553 of its own soldiers in the same period.
(Courtesy : AFP )
|Last Updated ( Monday, 09 March 2009 )|
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