35,000 civilians escape, LTTE complete defeat imminent - President
Apr 20, 2009

More than 35,000 civilians fled the last area under the control of Sri Lanka’s cornered LTTE today, President Mahinda Rajapakse said, adding that the rebels' "complete defeat" was imminent.

Showing aerial video from a military spy plane over the tiny area where the Tigers are staging a last stand, President said 35,000 non-combatants had crossed the lines into government-held territory since early this morning (20).

The President Mahinda Rajapaksa made a sudden visit to the Air Force Headquarters to observe the civilians cross over from war zone area to Government control areas.

"The footage clearly shows that the people are defying the rebels and escaping. They are running to safety. The process of the complete defeat of the LTTE has just begun, it is now all over for the Tigers," the president said.

The government has accused the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam of using trapped civilians as a human shield, and the president suggested that their escape removed a final obstacle to an all-out military assault.

Latest reports received from the Sri Lanka Army 58 Division indicate that over 35,000 civilians held hostage by LTTE terrorists at Puthumathalan and Amplalavanpokkani areas have been liberated. According to the sources, several thousands of others are waiting them to be rescued by the armed forces. All hostages held in Ampalavanpokkanai and Valayanmadam areas have been rescued, the sources added.

The mass rescue operation reached a significant phase when troops captured the 3 km long earth bund built by the LTTE, on the western border of the No Fire Zone this morning. With this capture troop opened a safe route for the hostages to come out of the LTTE grip which was occupied by thousands of civilians seeking refuge with the soldiers.

Meanwhile, defence sources on the field said that LTTE terrorists have launched a cowardly attack at the Tamil civilians leaving their grip and three LTTE suicide cadres have exploded themselves killing dozens of refugees including women and children.

The terrorists initially fired at the civilians on the causeway using heavy machine guns, when they stepped into the lagoon to avoid LTTE machine gunfire, three LTTE cadres ran on to civilians and exploded themselves.

Sri Lankan soldiers have been able to rescue several thousands of civilians held hostage by the LTTE terrorists in the government declared No Fire Zone.

According to the defence sources , troops have been able to open up a safe route for the civilians to come out of the NFZ after the soldiers of 58 Division successfully destroyed the LTTE fortifications in the Puthumathalan area.

Troops of 11 Sri Lanka Light Infantry (11 SLLI), 9 Gemunu Watch (9 GW), 8 Gajaba Regiment (8 GR), Special Force (SF) and Army Commandos (CR) captured 2 1/2 Km long stretch of LTTE built earth bund in the Puthumathalan area early this morning destroying the terrorists' ability to attack the civilians seeking refuge with the armed force.

As the rescue operation continued piercing the earth bund, Tiger terrorists as usual started firing artillery and mortars from the inside of the “No Fire Zone” towards the fleeing civilians.

Courtesy: Government News Portal