Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

'New York Post' slammed for publishing ISIS execution images

Read more

DEBATE

Back to Square One?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza: Back to Square One?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza conflict: 72-hour ceasefire deal sets stage for Cairo talks

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

FOCUS

Spain's El Hierro to become world's first self-powered island

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bellwether for what not to do

Read more

ENCORE!

Luc Besson back in action with Scarlett Johansson in 'Lucy'

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Netanyahu compares Hamas to IS, Gaza offensive to continue

    Read more

  • France’s ex-PM Juppé sets up presidential clash with Sarkozy

    Read more

  • France’s Hollande says global security ‘worst since 2001’

    Read more

  • France urges Iran, others in region, to join fight against IS

    Read more

  • A new view on Normandy landings, 70 years on

    Read more

  • Video: Dozens arrested despite smaller protests in Ferguson

    Read more

  • Dozens killed as landslides strike Japan’s Hiroshima

    Read more

  • Suspected Ebola cases in Austria, new drug raises hopes

    Read more

  • WWII anniversary highlights best - and worst - of Paris police

    Read more

  • Headscarf at the beach sparks French MEP’s fury

    Read more

  • Video: Life in under-siege Donetsk

    Read more

  • Racism, riots and police violence: USA under scrutiny

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Troops close in on Tigers as deadline expires

Video by Richard TOMPSETT

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-04-22

With the rebel Tamil Tigers ignoring the Sri Lankan government’s Tuesday morning deadline to surrender, a military offensive continues in the northeastern region amid mounting international concern over the humanitarian crisis on the ground.

A Sri Lankan government deadline for rebel Tamil Tigers to surrender, or face what it called a “final assault”, passed Tuesday with the military vowing to continue its offensive in the northeastern region of the island nation.

 

Amid mounting international concern over the humanitarian situation in the region, and calls for a brief halt in its latest assault, the Sri Lankan military said the operation would continue.

 

"The LTTE has not responded to the government's call to surrender, so we are keeping up our offensive to rescue the civilians," Sri Lankan military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara told the AFP shortly after the deadline expired.

 

On Monday, the Sri Lankan military gave the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), an ultimatum to surrender by noon local time on Tuesday (0630 GMT). The military says its troops are now poised to totally defeat the LTTE, a guerrilla group that has been fighting for an independent Tamil homeland on the ethnic Sinhalese-majority Buddhist island since the 1970s.

 

‘Civilians caught in the middle of the fighting’

 

The latest offensive has seen an exodus of tens of thousands of people who have been trapped in the Tiger’s last stronghold, raising international concerns over the humanitarian situation of the Tamil populace in the area.

 

International human rights monitors say the civilians are trapped in a narrow 14-square-kilometer coastal patch.

 

Speaking to FRANCE 24, Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia researcher for the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said the situation in the area was dire.

 

“Fourteen square kilometers is a very small area and there are tens of thousands of civilians still in there, civilians caught in the middle of the fighting,” said Ganguly.

 

The Sri Lankan government has declared the area a “no fire zone,” but Ganguly said the no-fire rule has not been respected by either side.

 

“The LTTE shot at people who attempted to escape from the no-fire zone,” said Ganguly, referring to Tiger rebels. “And the Sri Lankan military has shelled these areas.”

 

The Sri Lankan military has denied shelling civilians inside the rebel-held area. Tamil Tiger representatives however say the military has been shelling civilians

 

The Sri Lankan government has banned foreign reporters and international observers from the conflict zone, making it impossible to independently verify the claims of either side.

 

The crisis has sparked protests across the world, primarily among the Tamil community abroad. In Paris, French police arrested 210 people Monday when a rally by Tamils turned violent. In London, Tamil protesters have been demonstrating outside parliament in recent days.

 

 

 

Date created : 2009-04-21

COMMENT(S)