UN steps up efforts to evacuate workers as
LTTE area shrinks to 370 square kms

Terrorists struggling on the Vanni front are coming under heavy UN pressure to release civilians trapped in the rapidly shrinking LTTE-held territory east of the A9.

A spokesperson for UN agencies, based in Colombo, last night said that they were negotiating with the LTTE to secure the release of UN workers and a group of dependents of UN employees, now trapped in the war zone.

Responding to The Island queries, James Elder said that two expatriate UN staffers remained in the LTTE-held area to negotiate with the LTTE. He emphasized that the detention of Sri Lankan employees of the UN workers and their dependents was a part of larger issue. Urging the government and the LTTE to avoid civilian casualties, Elder said that the LTTE should allow people to move freely to safer areas.

The army said that the LTTE cadres and civilians were trapped in an approximately 370 square kilometre area. A senior military official said that Sri Lanka’s efforts to secure the release of civilians trapped in the war zone has been strengthened by the UN move to rescue its staff.

On the battlefield, the army has reached the western border of Vishvamadu by crossing the Netheli aru and the area north of Kalmadukulam tank.

The SLAF continued aerial attacks in support of 59 and 57 Divisions and Task Force III conducting operations in the Mullaitivu district.

Air Force jets and helicopter gunships continued with their raids on LTTE positions in Mullaitivu. Air Force Spokesperson Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said the SLAF engaged targets south of Mullaitivu, north-east of the Kalmadukulam tank bund, east of Visvamadu.

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