16 rebels killed, suicide boat sunk as fighting rages in SL | world | Hindustan Times
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16 rebels killed, suicide boat sunk as fighting rages in SL

world Updated: Jan 30, 2009 14:10 IST

At least 16 LTTE rebels were killed in fierce clashes with the Sri Lanka army which broke through the defences of one of the remaining rebel bastions, even as the Navy sunk an approaching explosives-laden suicide boat this morning.

Sri Lanka Navy attack boats deployed in the Mullaittivu seas destroyed an LTTE suicide boat around 3 am this morning, officials said.

The navy boats deployed in the sea blockade along the northeastern coast intercepted the explosive-laden Tiger suicide craft launched from the Mullaittivu coast and destroyed it with heavy gunfire, sources said.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa last night set a 48-hour ultimatum to the beleaguered LTTE to surrender and allow free movement of civilians trapped in conflict areas and assured a "safe passage" to civilians.

"I urge the LTTE, within the next 48 hours to allow free movement of civilians to ensure their safety and security. For all those civilians, I assure a safe passage to a secure environment," Rajapaksa said.

The statement came two days after External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee met Rajapaksa here and sought an assurance that the safety of Tamil civilians caught in the hostilities will be ensured.

Meanwhile, ground clashes continued, with Sri Lanka Army thrusting into the remaining LTTE hideouts stretching from the south of Kilaly lagoon to the Paranthan- Mullaittivu road, the defence ministry said.

At present, Lanka Navy has deployed four blockades along the northeastern coast of the island to prevent arms supplies and LTTE cadres from escaping via sea route.