Freedom at last
Over 122,000 Vanni civilians seek refuge in
The 58 Division troops backed by the Commando and Special Forces
troops yesterday continued their humanitarian operation to rescue the
civilians trapped inside the Safe Zone after reaching the Eastern
beachfront dividing the Safe Zone into two enabling more civilians to
arrive into the military controlled areas as huge influx of civilians
continued till yesterday evening.
The Security Forces were able to rescue more than 62,000 within the
last 48 hours ending midnight yesterday and more than 10,000 other
civilians are awaiting to reach the Security Forces controlled areas.
This brings the total number of civilians who fled the LTTE grip to over
“More than 58,000 civilians have arrived in military controlled areas
by land and another 4,000 by sea”, Army Commander Lt. General Sarath
Fonseka told the Daily News.
A huge influx of civilians were reported from the 58 Division area as
more than one km long queue to enter Security Forces held areas was
witnessed even by yesterday evening.
The Security Forces engaged in this humanitarian operation
facilitated the arrival of tens of thousands of civilians into military
controlled areas by providing them water and food as they reached the
Security Forces controlled areas crossing the lagoon in Puthumattalan
and Ampalavanpokkanai area. The Army Commander said the operation to
rescue the civilians trapped inside the No Fire Zone was planned in such
a way that civilians could reach the military controlled areas by land
and also by sea as ground troops manned the beach fronts without
enabling the LTTE to prevent the civilians fleeing by sea.
“The civilians fleeing from the No Fire Zone are arriving towards
Navy operating some 20 km away from the Safe Zone in Chundikulam and
Nayaru”, the Army Commander said.
He said the troops engaged in the process of expanding their defences
within the Safe Zone yesterday launched an attack on the last remaining
Sea Tiger base in Puthumattalan compelling the Sea Tiger leaders to flee
from that base.
The Army Commander said that the Security Forces are expecting
another 10,000 civilians from the Safe Zone within the course of the
next few hours leaving all the Tiger leaders there in the No Fire Zone.
The 58 Division which started humanitarian operation from Mannar in the
Western coast made a record yesterday reaching the Eastern coast of the
No Fire Zone after a 175 km march from Mannar to Puthumattalan.
The 58 Division managed to expand their defences towards the eastern
beach front after capturing the Puthumattalan hospital,
Ampalavanpokkanai hospital complex by yesterday evening.
“The 58 Division troops backed by Commando and Special Forces troops
further expanded their defences towards the North with the objective of
the linking up with the 55 Division which is also heading towards the No
Fire Zone from the Northern direction”, 58 Division GOC brigadier
Shavendra Silva told the Daily News.
He said that during their march towards the eastern coast the troops
launched an attack on LTTE vehicle killing Batticaloa leader Ramanan and
three of his body guards.