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Over 1,500 cross over to cleared areas

*Troops rescue over 650

*Sri Lanka Navy frees over 300

*Green Ocean ship evacuates 528

Over 1,500 civilians who were forcibly held by the LTTE terrorists, crossed over to the cleared areas yesterday.

Troops advancing further into the No Fire Zone amidst heavy resistance by the LTTE, yesterday, rescued over 650 civilians while the Sri Lanka Navy freed over 300 people who were fleeing the area by boats.

According to Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, 174 of 528 civilians evacuated by the Green Ocean ship yesterday were patients.

They were directed to the Indian mobile hospitals and Padaviya and adjoining hospitals along with their bystanders. He said over 15 civilians who were fired at by the LTTE arrived in the cleared areas yesterday. The seriously injured among them were airlifted to the Anuradhapura General Hospital.

“Troops have detected that the LTTE is using heavy weapons to target civilians living in the newly declared No Fire Zone. “LTTE cadres started firing motars to the newly declared No Fire Zone from 9.00 a.m. yesterday from time to time.

Our radar system has effectively detected that the LTTE has positioned heavy weapons including motars in the area.” The LTTE’s attempt to attack 58 Division troops were repulsed yesterday. “The terrorists in three boats attacked the troops of 58 Division. Troops repulsed the attacks causing heavy damages to their boats, Brigadier Nanayakkara said.

He said three child soldiers between the ages of 16 and 17 surrendered to the Security Forces yesterday. These child soldiers were deployed in the front line under the close supervision of senior LTTE cadres. “However they managed to arrive in the cleared areas while the senior LTTE cadres were asleep,” Brigadier Nanayakkara said.

These child soldiers have said that they were forcibly deployed to man bunkers on the front line by the LTTE which is facing a severe shortage of cadres.

Heavy fighting erupted when troops of 6 Gajaba Regiment, 5 Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment, 1 Sri Lanka Light Infantry and 17 Gemunu Watch in a concerted effort broke a number of defence lines of the LTTE terrorists.

The LTTE terrorists have laid land mines in the area to obstruct the advancing Security Forces, sources said.

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