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Government Gazette

Hostage situation in ‘safe zone’

LTTE actively engaged in preventing civilians’ escape:

Responding to international claims that the 48-hour humanitarian pause was inadequate, the Government said yesterday that what prevails in the ‘safe zone’ was a hostage situation, which needed strategical military maneuvers to save trapped civilians and not a normal evacuation process.

Defence Spokesman, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said, the fact was proven without doubt as the LTTE was actively engaged in preventing the escape of civilians, during the Government’s unilaterally declared 48 hour ‘humanitarian pause’.

The LTTE also used the opportunity to attack troops in the outskirts of the ‘safe zone’ using small arms and snipers throughout the day on April 14.

Calling this as the world’s biggest rescue mission, Minister Rambukwella said some well thought out strategies were in place to save the civilians, by people who knew the ground situation.

“Thus the concerned international parties should fall in line and support Government efforts to achieve the common goal, which is to ensure a safe passage for trapped civilians in the ‘safe zone’, forcibly kept as a human shield by the LTTE,” he added.

Meanwhile, Foreign Ministers of UK and France issued a joint statement criticising the use of civilians as a human shield by the LTTE.

According to international media, the two Foreign Ministers had said the Tigers had clearly been “forcefully preventing civilians from leaving the safe zone” during the 48-hour ceasefire.

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