Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Competing narratives in Malaysia Airlines disaster coverage

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya : Police arrest 8 over Mombasa rampage

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

FASHION

Who's next in Paris, an event with international ready-to-wear and fashion accessories collections

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Muslims and Christians clean up Bangui, and violence spirals out of control in Algeria's Gardaia

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is there such thing as 'telegenic' victims of war?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

2014-07-22 07:21 IN THE FRENCH PRESS

Read more

  • Israel hits targets in Gaza despite diplomatic efforts for ceasefire

    Read more

  • France gives go-ahead to pro-Palestinian Paris rally

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

  • US, European airlines suspend flights to Tel Aviv over Israel-Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Conflicting rulings by two US courts cast shadow on future of Obamacare

    Read more

  • Australian veteran Rogers claims 16th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • French Jews mourn French-Israeli soldier killed in Gaza

    Read more

  • PSG punished by UEFA for abuse of disabled Chelsea fans

    Read more

  • Widodo wins Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • Ukraine rebels release bodies, black boxes from flight MH17

    Read more

  • Colombia's Rodriguez signs '€80m' contract with Real Madrid

    Read more

  • Children killed in minibus crash in eastern France

    Read more

  • Hollande says French warship delivery will ‘depend on Russia’s attitude’

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

  • Notorious ‘VIP’ prison in Paris closed for renovations

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Troops tighten siege of Tamil rebels

Latest update : 2009-05-01

Sri Lankan troops have tightened their siege of the last strip of land controlled by Tamil Tigers, ready for a final assault. The Tigers have been driven back by a military onslaught designed to end their armed campaign for an independent homeland.

AFP - Sri Lankan government troops have tightened their siege of the last strip of land on the island still controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels and are poised for a final assault, the military said Friday.
  
Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told AFP that two columns of troops had consolidated positions along a strip of coastline in the northeast captured from the ethnic rebels earlier this week.
  
"The Tigers have no land escape routes left. We have troops in place to move in at any time," another top military official said. "If not for the civilians still trapped inside, we would have gone in by now."
  
Nanayakkara refused to say when the final assault would take place, asserting that troops "have to consider the civilians" still trapped in the territory held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
  
A statement from the office of President Mahinda Rajapakse said government planes on Friday dropped leaflets on LTTE territory urging civilians to cross over.
  
"I appeal to every one of you to come over to the cleared (government-held) areas," the messages from the president said.
  
"I am aware of the tremendous difficulties faced by the civilians who are unfortunately still being held hostage by the LTTE. Your suffering is prolonged by this action of the LTTE who are holding you as a human shield."
  
Officials said sporadic fighting was continuing Friday, with the navy also fighting an offshore battle with LTTE rebels trying to flee by boat. Navy spokesman Mahesh Karunaratne said three rebel craft were sunk and 23 rebels killed.
  
There was no comment from the Tigers, but the pro-rebel Tamilnet website said the guerrillas had sunk two naval craft in a sea battle.
  
Tamilnet also said the Tigers had killed some 350 soldiers in fighting on Wednesday, a claim promptly denied by the military.
  
The Tigers have been driven back by a prolonged military onslaught designed to finish the rebels' 37-year armed campaign for an independent Tamil homeland on the ethnic Sinhalese-majority island.
  
At the height of their campaign, the LTTE controlled roughly a third of the island and had established a fiefdom with all the trappings of a separate state.
  
The army says the rebels now hold a mere five square kilometres (two square miles). It also says it believes the Tamil Tigers' founder and leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, 54, is holed up with his last remaining fighters.
  
Rajapakse on Thursday ruled out halting the offensive, despite international calls for a truce to spare the lives of civilians.
  
"We have no plans to go for a ceasefire with the Tigers, but they have a little time left to drop their weapons and surrender even though our military operation is at a final stage," Rajapakse said.
  
According to the United Nations, some 50,000 civilians are still trapped in LTTE territory while as many as 6,500 may have been killed and another 14,000 wounded in the government's offensive so far this year.
  
About 110,000 Tamils displaced by the violence have been detained in congested government-run camps, where food, water and medical shortages have been reported.
  
A peace mission on Wednesday by the foreign ministers of Britain and France, David Miliband and Bernard Kouchner, ended in failure -- although the two Security Council powers have promised to maintain pressure on the Sri Lankan government.
  

Date created : 2009-05-01

COMMENT(S)