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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2967

Prabakaran hiding, taking cover among civilians – Sri Lanka Army Commander

By Ruwan Weerakoon in Colombo

Colombo, 23 April, ( Sri Lanka Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka told Asian Tribune that the world’s largest civilian hostage rescue operation was near completion. He further said that within the three days, from Monday April 20, more than 100,000 civilians had arrived into Government controlled areas.

Meanwhile, when inquired about the fate of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, the Army Commander said, "Prabhakaran is in south of the No Fire Zone, taking cover among the civilians. My troops, the Special Forces, Commandos and Infantrymen are advancing towards the area to rescue the rest of the civilians. Prabhakaran can’t escape over the land route as my troops are effectively manning the defence lines. Prabhakaran’s only escape route is only by sea."

During this operation, the Liberation tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had killed more than 50 civilians, the commander said. The LTTE attacking the civilians attacked was clearly seen in UAV footage. Also civilians had described to the military how the LTTE cadres had prevented them from moving out.

Army Commander Lt. General Fonseka told Asian Tribune, that not a single civilian was injured due to army attacks.

Civilians including Children wounded due to LTTE attacks were given emergency attention by a team of Military doctors and they were transported by the Air Force MI 17 Helicopters to the nearest hospitals, he said.

"My troops are disciplined and well trained to carry out hostage rescue operations," he added.

When inquired as to how many civilians reminded within the government declared No Fire Zone, now reduced to nearly half of its original area of 17 sq. kms , after the military moved in to the area, LTTE remain only in 7 KM land area allotted as No Fire Zone for the civilians. The commander said he estimated the number to be somewhere between 5,000 to10,000.

The remaining civilians, almost all ethnic Tamils are being held hostage by the LTTE in the southern area of the No Fire Zone. From January this year, over 3,000 LTTE cadres have surrendered to the Army. The latest among them are the LTTE’s spokesman/media coordinator Daya Master – real name Velayutham Thayanithi – and former LTTE political wing leader S.P. Thamilselvan’s translator, George Master – real name Velupillai Kumaru Pancharatnam, have surrendered to the Sri Lanka Army’s 58 Division, which is spearheading the rescue operations.

- Asian Tribune -

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