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Archive for Sunday, February 1, 2009

Deadline for civilian safe passage ends

February 1, 2009

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— A Sri Lankan government deadline for Tamil Tiger rebels to let civilians leave the northern conflict zone ended Saturday with only about 100 reaching safe areas. The government accused the insurgents of holding the civilians as human shields.

According to the Red Cross, some 250,000 civilians are trapped in the 115-square mile (300-square kilometer) area where the rebels have been boxed in by advancing troops. The government puts the number at about 120,000.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that more than 100 civilians including 16 children fled the war zone and “sought protection with security forces” on Saturday.

They included 63 people who arrived in Visuamadu town, while 43 others made their way in two boats across the choppy waters off Mullaittivu toward Pulmoddai town, it said.

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