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Sunday, 8 February 2009

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Tigers attack fleeing civilians

** Mass exodus from Mullaitivu

** Nearly 6000 civilians cross over on a single day

As the LTTE domination in the North is shrinking into a mere 96 square km, over 5,593 civilians, who were kept as hostages by the LTTE terrorists have crossed over to liberated areas from the Suthandrapuram and Puthukudiyirippu in Mullaitivu amidst heavy beating and shooting by the LTTE, during the last 48 hours.

This is the highest number of displaced people crossed in a single day over to the liberated areas during the current military operation to liberate Vanni. They have come to Dharmapuram and Visuamadu areas where they have been directed to the welfare centres in Vavuniya. Last Thursday over 1,637 civilians had fled the LTTE held areas in Mullaitivu and sought protection in the areas controlled by the 57 and 58 Divisions.

Security Forces Commander Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya told the `Sunday Observer’ that the Army had provided the necessary facilities as soon as they came over to the liberated areas. “The Army and the GA’s office are ready to facilitate these civilians and their security and welfare is well guaranteed”, he said.

According to the SF Commander, the civilians will be registered in Kilinochchi before they were handed over to the Vavuniya GA’s office. “There are three welfare centres in Vavuniya and the GA will supply all IDP requirements”, he said adding that the patients, depending on their wounds and sickness, will be immediately transferred to the Vavuniya hospital.

The 48-hour timeframe declared by the President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the LTTE to free the civilians, last week, was abused by them to attack the troops. They had installed the mortar and artillery gun positions amidst the civilians who had flocked into the State declared no fire zone.

“When the terrorists were attacking taking cover behind the civilians, the troops of the 58 division which are very close to the Suthandrapuram, tried their best not to retaliate. The civilians are living in Suthandrapuram, which is in the North East of Visuamadu and also in the no fire zone. The troops got much closer to the civilians who were heavily guarded by the LTTE, but did not fire at the terrorists as they knew the civilians would cross over from there”, the GOC of the 58 division Brig. Shavendra Silva said.

He said that when his troops got much closer to the civilians the IDPs started crossing into liberated areas as the distance is much less. “The LTTE could not stop civilians coming to us. Some civilians said that the Tigers had fired at them and some were subjected to heavy beating”.

Brig. Shavendra Silva further said that IDPs in small numbers crossed over to liberated areas during the two-day period declared by the government to release the civilians but when the military surrounded their areas the number of civilians crossing into liberated areas went up. Meanwhile, informed sources revealed that still the LTTE is keeping with it a large number of civilians as a human shield.

The sources said that a group of over 2,500 civilians who came to cross over to the liberated areas were dispersed by the LTTE by shooting and assaulting them with iron bars and wooden poles.

“A group of 50 Tigers armed with weapons and iron bars stopped the civilians, carrying infants, and started firing at them. As the civilians tried to resist their orders, the Tigers had started beating them.

There is no one to look after the injured people, especially those who are with gun shot injuries”, they lamented.

The informed sources said that though the crowd was dispersed still thousands of people were waiting to cross. They said that 10 to 15 priests were also staying with them.

From the beginning of the Vanni Operation, over 13,562 civilians have crossed over to the liberated areas upto now.

 

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