Related News

Home » World

Civilians try to escape Sri Lankan war zone

THOUSANDS of civilians under rebel fire waded across a lagoon to escape Sri Lanka's war zone, where government forces have surrounded Tamil Tiger separatists for the final battle of a 25-year conflict, the military and a United Nations official said.

The military said aerial surveillance footage confirmed an exodus of around 5,000 people from a tiny, sandy coastal strip, where the United States and others say the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are holding thousands by force.

Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers yesterday brushed off demands from the UN Security Council and US President Barack Obama to take steps to protect the civilians at grave risk stuck between two foes determined to fight to the end of a war that began in 1983.

The call appeared to have come too late to stop an exodus the military has been counting on to remove the only protection the Tamil Tigers has from a military onslaught of overwhelming force.

"Already, 2,000 civilians have crossed the lagoon. There is a large number of people crossing, and the (rebels) fired at them, Four people were killed, 14 were wounded," said military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara.

By evening, there were 2,700 people checked and cleared by Sri Lankan military and at least another 1,000 waiting, although darkness had made it difficult to tell, he said.

Earlier, the UN's acting representative for Sri Lanka, Amin Awad, told reporters that local sources in the combat zone said up to 6,000 had escaped or were attempting to do so.

Meanwhile, government doctors whose personal security is at the whim of the Tigers said constant shelling had prompted them to give up work at the only clinic left in the war zone, where 2,000 patients needed treatment.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend