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.