Sri Lanka says 63,000 Tamil civilians have escaped from the last remaining area of territory held by Tamil Tiger rebels in the past two days. The army said it had made further inroads into the small area in the north, searching for the rebel leader. It said some civilians fled by sea and were met by the navy. They were being transferred to government-run camps. The rebels alleged the army had killed about 1,000 civilians in the latest fighting. There is no confirmation.
Sri Lankan military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told the BBC’s Newshour programme that the army had rescued the civilians after breaking down earthen defences, rather than forcing them to flee amid fighting, as suggested by the rebels.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was “extremely worried” about civilians still trapped in the zone. “The situation is nothing short of catastrophic. Ongoing fighting has killed or wounded hundreds of civilians who have only minimal access to medical care,” said director of operations Pierre Kraehenbuehl.
The rebel TamilNet website said the territory they still controlled was littered with bodies of civilians. Video released by Tiger supporters shows mutilated bodies, but it is not clear when the recording was made.
Several hundreds of civilians are feared killed and injured and total chaos prevails among civilians as Sri Lanka Army (SLA) advanced into the so-called ‘safety zone’ in Pokka’nai Monday morning 11:00 a.m., according to latest reports from Vanni. Heavy fighting was reported along the bunds of the lagoon and patients in the Puthumaaththa’lan makeshift hospital were forced to run away as Rocket Propelled Grenades launched by the SLA hit the hospital. A few medical staff remaining in the hospital are hiding in bunkers. People were seen running in panic as dead and injured were seen lying scattered everywhere, eyewitnesses told TamilNet.
And the ICG make noises-
“Barack Obama’s administration has said it is committed to the principals of international law and humanitarian protection. Sri Lanka is the perfect opportunity for the new U.S. president to show that this is not empty rhetoric,” says an article by Robert Templer of the International Crisis Group. “Urgent, determined, and united international action is necessary to ensure the safety of the innocent — by the United Nations Security Council, other multilateral organizations, and individual countries that have relations with Sri Lanka, including India and Japan. Only international supervision, unhindered by the government, can provide the necessary level of protection,” writes the author, reflecting the changing and opportunistic perspectives of the IC, but elusive on the crux of the crisis – the Tamil national aspirations.
The International Crisis Group (ICG), which was highly critical of the Eezham Tamil liberation struggle sometimes back, theoretically contributed to Bush’s war on terror and the weakening of the Tamil defences leading to their genocide today, seems to have changed its perspectives, said a political analyst in Colombo.