The Terror Journal

A Journal on Terrorism and Genocide

Sri Lanka war rages as 640 make boat escape

Sri Lanka Tamil childrenSri Lanka’s navy rescued more than 640 people who fled the island’s war zone in a clutch of small boats as Tamil Tiger rebels opened fire, the military said on Wednesday, but tens of thousands remained trapped.

The military has the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cornered in 28 square km (11 sq miles) of the Indian Ocean island’s northeast, and is battling to deal a final blow to their 25-year separatist rebellion.

At least 18 more rebels were killed in the latest clashes in the shrinking war zone, a military official said on Wednesday.

The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said hundreds of children were among the 2,800 civilians who have been killed in fighting already, and warned that many more were still at risk. The government calls the figures unsubstantiated.

The United Nations said last week the Tigers were forcibly holding thousands of people inside the war zone and making them fight or build defenses.

The LTTE says people are staying out of choice. Nearly 44,000 have fled so far this year, almost 5,000 of them since Saturday.

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On Wednesday, 643 people in 35 small boats escaped a no-fire zone after navy sailors chased away LTTE boats that were firing on them, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said. The Tigers could not be reached for comment.

Nanayakkara said troops had recovered the bodies of 18 Tamil Tigers on Tuesday, and that fighting raged again on Wednesday.

Humanitarian agency CARE said one of its aid workers had been killed on Tuesday in the no-fire zone.

“The toll this war is taking on civilians is devastating,” said Nick Osborne, Country Director for CARE International in Sri Lanka.

Hundreds of deaths due to wounds and serious diseases could have been prevented if more medical supplies and facilities were available, the top government medical officials inside the war zone said in a letter to the health ministry.

The regional health directors for the Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts have been forced to quickly move their facilities across northern Sri Lanka as the Tigers made the civilian population flee with them when the army advanced.

“More than 500 civilian deaths, either on or after admission, have been registered at the hospitals and thousands of civilian deaths could have gone unrecorded as they were not brought to the hospitals,” the letter said.

The health ministry confirmed the letter’s authenticity and said there may be a drug shortage because of the difficulty of bringing in supplies, which come in a large ferry and are then carried ashore in small boats amid the fighting.

“As of now there may be acute shortage because of the current situation, because transferring drugs to uncleared areas is not very fast as compared with the past,” Dr. H.P.A Kahanddaliyage, secretary to the health ministry, told Reuters.

The Tigers are on U.S., EU, Canadian and Indian terrorist lists largely because of their extensive use of suicide attacks during a civil war that erupted in 1983 as a fight for a separate state for Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority.

Source: Reuters

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