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100,265 TAMIL CIVILIANS ESCAPING THE LTTE GRIP HAVE REACHED SRI LANKA WELFARE CENTERS CARED BY THE SEURITY FORCES

By Walter Jayawardhana

Sri Lankan army sources said in Colombo that the unending flow of Tamil civilians rushing out of the last Tamil Tiger territory where they had been kept hostages by THE LTTE ON Wednesday (April 22) have now surpassed 100,000.

The Tamil hostages were facilitated to free themselves of the area by the Sri Lanka Army breaching another earth mound by explosives that unleashed the massive exodus which the defence sources called the history’s biggest rescue operation. Among those 100,265 who came along and surrendered was the former LTTE media spokesman Daya Master and a senior member and interpreter George alias Kumar Pancharathnam of the LTTE.

Military sources said by now one third of the territory of the No Fire Zone which has become the hiding and battleground for the LTTE has been occupied by the Sri Lanka security forces leaving only 8 square kilometers for the rebels.

The state owned ITN television announced that another 120 buses had been deployed to the area to transport the Tamil civilians who had been sometimes walking in neck high lagoon water to reach army units waiting to receive them. Two pregnant women gave birth to a son and a daughter in two of these buses. They had been assisted by women soldiers of the Sri Lanka Air Force using the light of dry cell flash lights in the bus.

Although hot meals were constantly being cooked in numerous army kitchens for the refugees, considering the increased numbers to care for , President Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered army transport helicopters to immediately airlift 6000 cooked rice and curry meal packets to the area. They were immediately being distributed by the security forces among starving hostages who have been walking without food. Bakery food like bread and buns were also being airlifted from Colombo bakeries.

238 Tamil civilians who were injured by the three suicide bombers sent by the LTTE to stop the civilians leaving the area had been airlifted to the Anuradhapura hospital and were treated there. 17 Tamil civilians died in these suicide attacks.

Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara military spokesman said, "Confrontations are taking place. Whenever we come across LTTE cadres, we are fighting them. The rescue operation is continuing."

 

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