04/16/2009, 00.00
Send to a friend

Government rejects ceasefire extension, fighting resumes after New Year ceasefire

by Melani Manel Perera
War starts up against after a two-day ceasefire for Sinhalese and Tamil New Year. Sri Lankan military turns down rebel demand for ceasefire extension, alleging break would give the Tamil Tigers an opportunity to rearm. United Nations calls for an end to hostilities to avoid “a bloodbath on the beaches,” where fighting is raging.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – The two-day ceasefire announced by the government to mark Sinhalese and Tamil New Year has come to an end despite calls by Tamil rebels for its extension. United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Chief John Holmes urges the parties to stop fighting to enable 100,000 civilians trapped in the war zone to get out

The UN official used harsh words against the government and the rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He said that the evacuation of civilians and the end to indiscriminate shelling against defenceless civilians are urgent to avoid “a bloodbath on the beaches” near Mullaitivu.

Holmes accused the LTTE of preventing 100,000 civilians from escaping the area during the truce in order to use them as human shields against the army’s advance.

He also accused the government of shelling a narrow coastal strip where thousands of civilians are trapped between the government forces and the LTTE. 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa reiterated his pledge to end the war that has torn the northern part of Sri Lanka for the past 25 years.

Using the army’s progress into the rebel-held areas, the Sri Lankan government has refused to accede to demands by the international community for a long truce.

According to the government a ceasefire now would allow the rebels to rearm.

In the mutual blame game now underway rebels have accused the army of firing on civilians, killing at least 180 people three hours after the end of the ceasefire.

For their part Sri Lanka’s armed forces have said that LTTE forces are now reduced to about a thousand rebels. They have also accused them of using civilians as human shields and of recruiting again minors under the age of 15.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Army issues ultimatum to Tamil Tigers
Government sets up Tamil committee, a trick for the opposition
Dead or alive, Tamil Tiger leader’s fate sealed
Amnesty for rebels but no pity for Tamil Tiger leader
Senior peace adviser to the president resigns