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Two top LTTE guns surrender
Chandani Kirinde writes from Colombo

Two top LTTE leaders, Velayuthan Thayanithi alias Daya Master and group’s translator George, surrendered to the Sri Lanka Army yesterday as the military said it had secured more than half of the no fire zone, trapping the leadership of the LTTE.

The two LTTE leaders had surrendered along with their family members in the Puthumathalan area on Wednesday. Daya Master was the head of the LTTE’s media and propaganda machinery for years until he was removed from the position last year while George, a former postmaster, was the English translator of the outfit.

The news of surrender came as the government said the number of civilians who had crossed over to the government-controlled areas since Monday had reached over 1,00,000.

A Defence Ministry website quoted the army commander as saying the security forces were expecting another 10,000 civilians from the safe zone within the course of the next few hours leaving all the Tiger leaders in the no-fire zone.

PTI adds: Sri Lanka “strongly believes” that LTTE chief V Prabhakaran and his other top aides were still in the area and had not escaped. “They are fighting on their last legs and it is a losing battle. The only way for them to stop this military operation is to lay down arms,” a government spokesman said even as troops pushed deeper into the no-fire zone.

Meanwhile, the LTTE has claimed that their two leaders had not surrendered but were arrested when the Puthumathalan hospital in the ‘no fire zone’ was captured by the forces today. A pro-LTTE website merely said that Lankan army shelling damaged a church at Valaignarmadam, in which many people who had taken shelter, were killed.

The rapid Sri Lankan advance came as the first-ever satellite imagery of the embattled zone showed that tens of thousands of Tamil civilians were squeezed into the last small strip of land controlled by the Tamil Tigers.

After capturing Putumathalan yesterday, which triggered off the civilian exodus, Sri Lankan troops today moved deeper into the no fire zone, capturing Vishwamadukulam and Alankulam and in search operation, came across 22 dead bodies of LTTE cadres.

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