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Lanka rejects LTTE’s ceasefire offer
Calls it a joke
Chandani Kirinde writes from Colombo

An offer of an immediate unilateral ceasefire in the north by the beleaguered Tamil Tigers on Sunday was rejected by the Sri Lankan Government. The Media Centre for National Security in Colombo called the ceasefire announcement a gimmick. The LTTE announcement came as the UN under Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes arrived in the country to discuss the growing international concern regarding the plight of trapped civilians in the conflict zone.

“In the face of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and in response to the calls made by the UN, EU, the governments of the USA, India and others, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has announced an unilateral ceasefire. All of LTTE’s offensive military operations will cease with immediate effect”, the LTTE said in a statement.

However, the government was not a swayed by the LTTE announcement. It maintained that the only way for the LTTE to stop the offensive against them by the military is to lay down their arms and surrender to the government.

PTI adds: Sri Lanka’s defence secretary, the top civilian official in charge of the military, and the President’s brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa said the government will undertake another rescue if the LTTE does not release the civilians it is holding forcefully.

“We will undertake another rescue mission. As such, everyday the civilians are coming out of the area. Only 5 sq km land is left with them,” he said.

Foreign secretary Palitha Kohona said the ceasefire offer is a trick played by the LTTE to “deceive” the world. “It is a cynical effort on the part of LTTE to exploit the visit of Under Secretary of UN John Holmes to Sri Lanka. LTTE is down on its knees and has nothing to bargain with,” he told PTI.

“Declaring the ceasefire is a joke, because we have told repeatedly and the world has told it repeatedly to surrender, lay down its weapons and let the people whom it is holding hostage go free,” he said.

LTTE’s truce offer came on a day when the Sri Lankan forces captured the strategic Vlayarmadam area and encircled remaining six sq km strip of land which is the possible hideout of Tigers chief V Prabhakaran and his top aides.

The LTTE said the “suffering inflicted on our people by the Sri Lankan armed forces in violation of all international humanitarian laws has now reached its peak.” The Tamil Tigers also alleged that people who were moved out of the war zone have been detained.



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