Sri Lankan Rebels Must Let Civilians Out During Truce, UN Says

Article Date: 
13 Apr 2009

Tamil Tiger rebels must allow civilians trapped in Sri Lanka’s conflict zone in the north to leave the area during a government-declared pause in hostilities, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered troops to halt their offensive against the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam for 48 hours from today to coincide with new year celebrations for the nation’s minority Tamil and majority Sinhalese population.

The UN estimates more than 100,000 civilians are caught in a sliver of territory controlled by the LTTE in the northeast. It warned last week of a potential “bloodbath” as the army and Tamil Tigers prepare for a possible “final confrontation.”

The LTTE must “take concrete and immediate steps to protect civilians by respecting the pause for its full duration” and allow civilians to leave the conflict zone, Ban said in a statement on the UN’s Web site. The LTTE says the civilians have chosen to remain in rebel-held areas.

Article Author: 
Michael Heath
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