No lifeline for LTTE assures govt.

Dismissing recent LTTE efforts to force a Norwegian intervention to force an immediate ceasefire on the Vanni front, the Sri Lankan government yesterday said that it wouldn’t allow anyone to throw a fresh lifeline to the group.

An authoritative official accused Norway of trying to rescue the LTTE by facilitating its propaganda campaign geared to cause an immediate international intervention.

He said that the army was outside the no firing zone and all routes in and out of the area had been cut off with the navy throwing a cordon to block the remaining sea access now restricted to about 12 km.

Responding to our queries, he said that last Wednesday’s media reports on a discussion between LTTE Political Wing leader B. Nadesan and former peace facilitator, Norwegian Minister Erik Solheim, was nothing but an attempt to strengthen call for an immediate ceasefire.

The Norwegian government seemed to have conveniently forgotten that its role as Sri Lanka’s peace facilitator had ended with the termination of the CFA, he said.

A Foreign Ministry official said that Norway shouldn’t have anything to do with the LTTE now. The Defence Ministry accused Norway of being in constant touch with the Malaysia based LTTE procurement agent ‘KP’, wanted by India for his alleged involvement in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination.

Meanwhile the army has stepped up pressure on the remaining LTTE group including its top leadership trapped in a narrow strip of coastal land in the Mullaitivu district.

The army through loud hailers over the past few days urged ordinary LTTE cadres to surrender. Soldiers addressed them repeatedly in Tamil advising them of the futility in their fight as the army hunted down a large group of LTTE cadres trapped in the Puthukudirippu east.

During two days of confrontations, the army had killed about 80 Tigers and recovered their bodies along with arms and ammunition. Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told The Sunday Island that several dozens more could be trapped in the area.

"We are in the process of hunting them down," he said.

Navy spokesman Commander Mahesh Karunaratne told The Sunday Island that the Special Boat Squadron (SBS) deployed on the Mullaitivu coast Friday midnight had thwarted an LTTE boat movement. During the confrontation, the SBS destroyed one LTTE craft and damaged another while the army successfully engaged two craft.

Brigadier Nanayakkara said that troops recovered bodies of seven LTTE cadres following the destruction of the LTTE craft close to the land.

Commander Karunaratne said that three naval craft were hit causing injuries to two sailors. (See page 12 for review of ground operations in Eeelam War IV)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon has urged the Sri Lankan government not to direct heavy weapons at LTTE targets in the civilian safety zone.

The New York based Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Ban Ki moon Friday said that the SG was deeply distressed by continuing reports from the Vanni region of Sri Lanka that civilians were at extreme risk, with heavy casualties, and that the LTTE were holding civilians in a very small area of active conflict against their will. The following is the statement: "While some have been able to leave or escape, reliable reports indicate that the LTTE have prevented others from leaving, including by firing at them."

 "The Secretary-General calls upon the LTTE leadership to allow civilians to leave the conflict area of their own free will. The severe restrictions of the LTTE on their freedom of movement violate international law. The Secretary-General also deplores the forced recruitment of civilians, particularly children."

 "At the same time, the Secretary-General again reminds the Government of Sri Lanka of its responsibility to protect civilians, and to avoid the use of heavy weapons in areas where there are civilians, as promised. The Government should receive and treat displaced persons in accordance with international law, and work closely with the United Nations in meeting the protection and physical needs of displaced persons."

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