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No let up in air strikes Defence Spokesman

COLOMBO: The Government yesterday vehemently denied allegations made by certain parties that the Air Force had restricted air attacks in the North and the Wanni fearing civilian casualties, Government Defence Affairs Spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said.

"Civilians are our prime concern in the ground battles and the ongoing humanitarian operation in the North and the Wanni." the minister said.

Addressing at the MCNS yesterday, Minister Rambukwella said there were allegations against the Air Force that the air raids were curtailed due to the civilian casualties during air sorties in the North and the Wanni.

"It is baseless, when we are taking a target in an aerial attack the welfare of civilians are always taken into consideration. There are instances that even when the target was confirmed the Air Force refrains from the air attacks due to the civilian presence in the vicinity", he added.

Minister Rambukwella noted that safeguarding civilians and providing the needs of the war affected people are always considered by the Government and the Security Forces.

"The A-32 route extending 80km from Mannar to Pooneryn will be opened within a couple of days as the Security Forces are control 77km of the A-32 route. This will open a passage for the movement of civilians and help the Security Forces operation to reach the North", Minister Rambukwella said.

Meanwhile, Minister Rambukwella called the LTTE as a ruthless terrorist out-fit for recruiting school teachers who were paid by the Government as their cadres.

"It was interesting to observe the reactions of the local and International community on the LTTE atrocities regarding the three LTTE female cadres including a school teacher who surrendered to the Forces and disclosed their horrifying stories in the uncleared areas", he added.

Minister Rambukwella pointed out that the LTTE are using school teachers and clerks attached to several Government departments and institutions as well as NGO's and INGO aid workers living in the uncleared areas to fight against the Security Forces.

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