Sri Lanka gives Tamil Tigers 48 hours to allow civilians leave
Beleaguered Tamil Rebels have been given 48 hours window to allow 250,000 Tamil civilians to leave the small patch of northeastern jungle where the army has pinned the rebels down.
Sri Lanka's president has promised safe passage for 250,000 civilians trapped by fighting in the north-east.
Mahinda Rajapaksa urged the Tamil Tiger rebels to ensure the free movement of civilians from the region.
The rebels have not commented but in the past have insisted the people want to stay to be protected by them.
The UN says it is seriously concerned about the fate of trapped civilians. Rights groups and health officials say hundreds have been killed.
Sri Lanka's defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapakse, says the numbers are exaggerated and aid agencies are panicking.
Indian Political Parties supporting Tamil Rebels have sharply criticised the LTTE for not responding to the 48-hour ceasefire declared by the Sri Lankan government in the Vanni region to evacuate large number of civilian Tamils caught in the fighting between the island army and the Tigers.
The LTTE had not given any word on the safe passage of Tamils in the conflict zone, Tamil Nadu finance minister and DMK general secretary K Anbazhagan said in the state Assembly.
Replying to a mention by Congress Whip S.Peter Alphones in this regard, he said even after last night's announcement of the ceasefire by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, LTTE leader V Prabhakaran and his cadres did not come forward to reciprocate it.
"If Sri Lankan government could say that it will save the Tamils after India's intervention, why the LTTE has not shown any response to that?" he asked.
UN agencies had also welcomed the temporary ceasefire by the Sri Lanka government, said Anbhazhagan, who fielded questions from the members on the issue for the second day in the absence of chief minister M Karunanidhi, who is indisposed. He wondered why the LTTE had not yet allowed the people a safe passage from the war zone.