20 February 2018

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04/10/2009 SRI LANKA

Army says civilians rebelling against Tamil Tigers in security zone

The army of Colombo says there have been "serious disturbances . . . with loud explosions and machine gun fire" in the area of Ampalawanpokkanai.The population is believed to have risen up against the rebels after the latest appeal from the army, which asked the LTTE to allow the civilians to leave the no-fire zone. According to the Defense Ministry, the leaders of the Tigers have also taken shelter in the area.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Civilian revolt in the security zone. The Defense Ministry of Colombo says that on Wednesday afternoon, there was fighting between the population taking refuge in the so-called "no fire zone" (NFZ) and the Tamil rebels present in the area.

The army of Colombo says there have been "serious disturbances" with "loud explosions and machine gun fire" from the area of Ampalawanpokkanai. The revolt is been believed to have erupted after the military, through loudspeakers on the border of the NFZ, told the rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to release the civilians they were keeping hostage, and put down their weapons.

According to the Defense Ministry, the heads of the LTTE, and even their leader, Velupillai Prabakaran, have taken shelter in the security zone. In confirmation of this hypothesis, the army reports the statement by a group of 118 civilians, made up of 51 children, 36 women, and 31 men, who were brought to safety on April 8. They say that the Tamil rebels have built bunkers inside the NFZ to house the commanders of the LTTE, and barriers to keep the civilians from leaving the area.

The population trapped in the conflict zone and in the NFZ is the object of constant violence, and at the center of ongoing controversy. The regular forces of Colombo accuse the Tamil Tigers of using civilians as human shields, and of keeping them hostage in order to obstruct the army's advance; the rebels respond by accusing the military of bombing the area without making any distinction between civilians and guerrillas.

The international community has repeatedly appealed to the two forces in conflict to spare the civilian population and permit the refugees to leave the war zone. UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has repeated these requests to the president of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, during a telephone conversation yesterday. The United Nations says that there is a serious humanitarian crisis afflicting the populations in the northern part of the island, confirming the alarm raised some time ago by the Churches and civil society in the country.

See also

25/04/2009 SRI LANKA
Vanni, government asks for international aid. Tamils issue accusations against authorities
The humanitarian crisis in the war zones is becoming increasingly serious. The Tamil Tigers say about 165,000 civilians risk dying of hunger; accusations against the government, which is "deliberately" blocking aid. Colombo clarifies that care for refugees is a "priority," and it is preparing a postwar plan.

20/04/2009 SRI LANKA
Colombo army: tens of thousands of civilians fleeing war zone
The military says that it has broken through the defense line of the Tamil rebels, allowing the population to flee. Sources for the army say 30,000 people are on the move. The government is issuing an ultimatum to the guerrillas: a surrender within 24 hours. According to the UN, over the last three months the war has caused at least 4,500 deaths among civilians.

23/04/2009 SRI LANKA - UN
UN asks Tamil Tigers to surrender
Pressure on Colombo government to respect “International human rights”. Rebels also condemned by China and Russia. India urges a political solution to the conflict to ensure “a dignified life for the Tamil people within the wider context of Sri Lankan society”. Satellite images published by the USA show hundreds of thousands of civilians still trapped within the war zone.

26/03/2009 SRI LANKA
Catholic and Anglican bishops: civilians desperate in Vanni, aid needed immediately
The bishops are asking the government and Tamil rebels to "take immediate steps to alleviate the suffering" of the civilians, and not to hide behind the "endless debates" over the real number of refugees. The requests include that of permitting religious representatives to enter Vanni with the UN and the Red Cross.

29/01/2009 SRI LANKA
Jaffna bishop, Christians on hunger strike for Vanni’s displaced civilians
Ten days of bombardment kill more than 400, injure more than 1,400. Sri Lankan government minimises casualty figures. UN convoy successfully reaches Vavuniya Hospital, bringing hundreds of people to safety, including some 50 children.

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