Rebels face final blow, Sri Lankan leader says
This war should have
ended years through
negotiations but as
often happens it was
a war used to settle
The Sri Lankan president declared Monday that the army was on the verge of crushing the Tamil Tiger rebels after a 25-year war.
In recent months, the army has wrested all major towns once controlled by the Tigers, who are now defending a 300-square-kilometer pocket, or 115 square miles.
And as in most wars,
civilians suffer the most.
"The strongholds of terror once believed to be invincible," President Mahinda Rajapaksa said, "have fallen in rapid succession, bringing the final elimination of terror from our motherland and the dawn of true freedom to all our people well within our reach." He made his remarks Monday in a message to mark the 61st Independence Day, which will be celebrated Wednesday.
It is the first time the Sri Lankan government has come this close to a military solution to Asia's longest-running civil war, centered over demands for a separate Tamil state in the north and the east.
As the military continued to pressure Tiger rebels Sunday, three artillery attacks struck a hospital overflowing with wounded patients, the last of them hitting a ward of women and children, according to international agencies and health workers. At least nine people were killed and 20 wounded, and the dead were still being counted Monday.
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Moratuwa, Western, Sri Lanka