Sri Lanka Near Victory Over Trapped Tamil Tigers
The final battle of
this war should be
over within a month
or less.That will be
good for all the people
of Sri Lanka.
World's 'largest hostage rescue mission?'
As the fighting has shrunk to a narrow strip of rebel-held land, currently less than three square miles, Sri Lanka's military has framed its offensive against the LTTE as the world's "largest hostage rescue mission." On Friday, it air-dropped leaflets into the area that urged Tamil civilians to seek sanctuary in the cleared areas.
That's what happened here on Apr. 20. Overnight, Army commandos crossed the shallow lagoon and captured the LTTE's defensive embankment. The next morning, watched by spy drones, huge crowds of ragged men, women and children streamed out on foot. By 10 a.m., 5,000 had crossed into government-held territory. At 10 p.m., the number rose to 35,000, in addition to those who escaped north along the sands. In total, 115,000 civilians escaped this way, the military says.
Commanders say that if they can penetrate the final LTTE redoubt, the remainder of the trapped civilians can flee, leaving the rebels to surrender or die. More than 3,000 have surrendered so far. The military insists that no bystanders are harmed in the rescue efforts. "We continue this operation with the aim of not causing any casualties to civilians," Gen. Dias said.