Civil War on its Last Leg, says Lankan President

Lankan government has said that the 25-years long civil war is in its final phase as army pounded Tamil rebels in the country’s north. In the conflict, as many as 70,000 people have been killed so far.

While attending an economic summit in Jordan, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the end of the current military offensive, often referred to as a civilian rescue mission, is less than 48 hours away.

“The Tamil civilians held hostage by the LTTE in small area of land in the north would be rescued, and the Tamils would be saved from the threat of LTTE terrorism,” Rajapaksa said.

In the offensive, Sri Lankan army has squeezed Tamil Tiger fighters into approximately 1.5 square miles (four square kilometers) of coastal land. According to the United Nations estimates, more than 50,000 civilians are trapped there.

A rebel website claimed that the chunk of land, known as the no-fire zone or civilian safety area, was under siege by government forces.

“The entire safety zone area is in smoke … as shelling by the Sri Lanka army was destroying all the structures within a narrow strip of coastal land, which is densely populated with tens of thousands of people,” Tamilnet said.

Humanitarian aid groups maintain that there were mass civilian casualties in the fighting.

“The government is moving forward in extremely difficult circumstances. After all, the … Tamil Tigers are seeded amidst the middle of all these civilians. It’s very difficult to weed out and identify who is a fighter and who is not,” said Gordon Weiss, a UN spokesman.

He said that it makes it very very dangerous for civilians and explains the very large toll on civilian life seen at this point.

Weiss had termed the fighting a “bloodbath” at the beginning of the week.

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