Sri Lanka Gives Tigers 24 Hours to Surrender
20 Apr 09 | CSM
Tens of thousands of civilians fled Monday as the government breached rebels’ defensive wall.
Tens of thousands of Tamil civilians crossed Monday into government-held territory in northeast Sri Lanka after troops punched through rebel lines in what could be a decisive blow in one of Asia’s longest running wars.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the mass exodus spelled the “complete defeat” of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a separatist group that first took up arms in 1983. Government officials have declared a 24-hour deadline until midday Tuesday for the rebels, led by reclusive commander Velupillai Prabhakaran, to surrender. Analysts have speculated that Mr. Prabhakaran may already have escaped by boat.
The escapees fled Monday along a causeway and across a shallow lagoon that borders a 7.7 square milestrip of coastline that is designated as a no-fire zone. The United Nations recently estimated that more than 100,000 people were sheltering there. Western governments accuse the LTTE of using the trapped civilians as human shields against an overwhelming military onslaught. >>>